U.S. Olympian Gwendolyn Berry’s contempt for the country she will have the honor to represent at the Tokyo Olympics next month was on full display on Saturday evening.
After she finished third in the hammer throwing event at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Oregon, which guaranteed her a spot on Team USA, the top three finishers stood on the medal podium. “The Star-Bangled Banner” was played as winner DeAnna Price, second-place finisher Brooke Andersen and Berry waited to receive their medals.
As if it were kryptonite, Berry turned her back to the American flag, according to the New York Post. In case anyone missed her message, she held up a shirt that said “Activist Athlete.”
“Arrogant Athlete” would have been more accurate.
It turned out that Berry believed they played the national anthem just to spite her. Please get over yourself, Gwen.
Following the award ceremony, she told reporters, “I feel like it was a set-up, and they did it on purpose. I was pissed, to be honest.”
“They had enough opportunities to play the national anthem before we got up there,” Berry said. “I was thinking about what I should do. Eventually I stayed there and I swayed, I put my shirt over my head. It was real disrespectful.”
“I didn’t really want to be up there,” the 31-year-old Olympian added. “Like I said, it was a setup. I was hot, I was ready to take my pictures and get into some shade.”
She didn’t really want to be up there?
“They said they were going to play it before we walked out, then they played it when we were out there,” Berry said. “But I don’t really want to talk about the anthem because that’s not important. The anthem doesn’t speak for me. It never has.”
“My purpose and my mission is bigger than sports,” she said. “I’m here to represent those … who died due to systemic racism. That’s the important part. That’s why I’m going. That’s why I’m here today.”
She’s a hammer thrower who won a bronze medal at an Olympic trial, for goodness sake.
USA Today contacted USA Track and Field to find out if it had played the anthem to “set up” Berry.
The organization’s managing director of communications, Susan Hazzard, replied by email: “The national anthem was scheduled to play at 5:20 p.m. today.”