A gold medalist hammer thrower and a member of the gold medal-winning men’s U.S. Fencing Team got political during their respective medal ceremonies.
“Somebody has to talk about the things that are too uncomfortable to talk about,” said hammer thrower Gwen Berry after her event. “Somebody has to stand for all of the injustices that are going on in America and a president who’s making it worse.”
Berry raised her fist in protest on the podium as “The Star-Spangled Banner” played following her win.
Likewise, 26-year-old Race Imboden used his victory platform to raise awareness about injustice. Upon winning gold, along with two other teammates, for the U.S. in the Men’s Fencing Championship, Imboden knelt, similar to Colin Kaepernick’s trademark protest, and later wrote about it on Twitter.
“We must call for change,” tweeted Imboden as he shared images of his protest which took place Friday (August 9) at the international games in Lima, Peru. “A president who spreads hate are at the top of a long list of the nation’s woes,” he wrote in a follow-up tweet. “I chose to sacrifice my moment today at the top of the podium to call attention to issues that I believe need to be addressed. I encourage others to please use your platforms for empowerment and change.”
and a president who spreads hate are at the top of a long list.— Race Imboden (@Race_Imboden) August 10, 2019
I chose to sacrifie my moment today at the top of the podium to call attention to issues that I believe need to be addressed. I encourage others to please use your platforms for empowerment and change.
For Gwen Berry, she says it’s her duty to speak out when she sees injustice. “Somebody has to talk about the things that are too uncomfortable to talk about. Somebody has to stand for all of the injustices that are going on in America and a president who’s making it worse,” she told USA Today the next day.
The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee said Saturday it was “disappointed” Imboden had broken a pledge regarding U.S. team athletes participating in political demonstrations. It even reportedly warned that “consequences may result.”
That said, many on social media applauded the pair of olympic athletes. See what they had to say below.
This Country was founded on freedom of speech/expression. This metal winning hero is demonstrating to the world what that means. Taking a knee is not disrespectful, it is an American right, that is freedom, that is America. If wannabe Dictator Trump doesn't like it, too bad.— Not Me. Us. (@HopePeaceChange) August 11, 2019
Fencers hold fast.— Charles P. Pierce (@CharlesPPierce) August 10, 2019
It’s what we do.
Good job, young man.
Gwen Berry is a national treasure. https://t.co/QlkjeM2vi1— profloumoore (@loumoore12) August 11, 2019
Thank you for taking a stand.#RaceImboden #GwenBerry— Grild Cheez (@grild_cheez) August 11, 2019
"Berry raised her fist during the Star-Spangled Banner after winning gold Saturday, one day after Imboden took a knee during the men’s team foil medals ceremony" pic.twitter.com/wtNPjoAtF2
Photo: FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images and Patrick Smith/Getty Images