Olympian Gwen Berry responds to reaction at time of national anthem – NBC Chicago


Olympic hammer thrower Gwen Berry made headlines for more than just qualifying for the Tokyo Games over the weekend and took to Twitter to respond to the scrutiny of her podium.

At the Olympic track and field trials in the United States on Saturday, the outspoken activist, who was born in Illinois and attended Southern Illinois University, was on the podium after receiving her bronze medal in the hammer throw when the hymn began to play.

As the music played, Berry placed his left hand on his hip and wiggled his feet. She did a quarter turn, so she was facing the stands, not the flag. Towards the end, she ripped off her black T-shirt with the words “Activist Athlete” on the front and draped it over her head.

“I feel like it was a set-up, and they did it on purpose,” Berry said of the timing of the anthem. “I was pissed off, to be honest.”

She found it was no coincidence that she was in the foreground during the anthem. Unlike the Olympics, they do not play hymns to accompany the medal ceremonies during the trials. But the hammer throwers received their awards just before the start of the evening session, which kicked off the entire week with a video rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” played on the scoreboard.

US Athletics spokeswoman Susan Hazzard said “the national anthem was scheduled to be played at 5:20 pm today. We didn’t wait for the athletes to be on the podium for the hammer throw awards. The national anthem is played daily according to a previously published schedule. On Saturday, the music started at 5:25 p.m.

“They said they were going to play it before they went out, and then they played it when we were there,” Berry said. “But I don’t really want to talk about the anthem because it’s not important. The anthem does not speak for me. He never did.

Berry’s reaction to the “Star-Spangled Banner” took its fair share of the spotlight on an extremely hot penultimate day during practice which also featured extremely fast times.

Berry addressed both criticism and support on Twitter Sunday night.

With temperatures reaching 101 degrees on the field, Berry earned her place and platform at the Tokyo Olympics, seizing third place just 2 inches above Janee Kassanavoid.

Berry has vowed to use his position to continue raising awareness of social injustices in his home country.

“My purpose and my mission are bigger than sport,” Berry said. “I am here to represent those (…) who have died because of systemic racism. This is the important part. That’s why I’m going. This is why I am here today.

NBC Entertainment reporter Heather Brooker spoke to three-time Olympian Dominique Dawes who produced “Golden: The Journey of USA’s Elite Gymnasts” to find out why she shines the spotlight on the sport and these athletes as they compete. a place at the Tokyo Olympics. . “Golden” is now airing on Peacock TV.

Berry’s actions elicited virtually no reaction from the still full bleachers. And that was way less than two summers ago, when she raised her fist on the podium after winning the Pan Am Games.

This protest led to a sanction, but ultimately prompted the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee to pledge not to punish athletes who raise their fists or kneel during trials or in Tokyo. It’s a potential flashpoint for Tokyo, where the IOC has said it will enforce its Rule 50 which bans protests inside the lines. It was the same ban that fired sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos from the 1968 Mexico Games.

Now Berry will head to her second Olympics, and she saw what it would take to win something close to a similar time in Tokyo.

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