Costa Rican gymnast Luciana Alvarado made history by mimicking it Sunday (July 26) when she took a knee during her Olympic performance.
The 18-year-old gymnast, who is the first-ever from Costa Rica to qualify for the Olympics, began her journey at the Tokyo games by making a demonstration in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. At the end of her routine, Alvarez took a knee, put her left arm behind her back, and raised her right fist to the sky.
The pose combines the raised fist and kneeling movements that have been used in protests by Black athletes and activists, most notably John Carlos and Tommie Smith in the 1968 Olympics. It is part of Alvarez’s floor choreography, and she performed the routine during the fourth subdivision of the women’s artistic gymnastics qualifications.
Her demonstration is the first of its kind on an international stage in elite gymnastics, according to NBC’s The Today Show.
Alvarez later confirmed in an interview with the GymCastic podcast that the pose was intentional.
“My cousin and I, we both do it in our routines. And I feel like if you do something that brings everyone together, you know, and you see that here, like 'Yes, you're one of mine, you understand things', the importance of everyone treated with respect and dignity and everyone having the same rights because we're all the same and we're all beautiful and amazing so I think that's why I love to have it in my routine and I love that my little cousin does it on her routine too," she said.
The demonstration comes after the International Olympic Committee released new guidelines on how athletes can protest earlier this month, according to CBS News. The new rules allow athletes to make demonstrations on the field of play before the start of competition or during the introduction of the athlete or team. It’s likely that Alvarado will not face repercussions, since the move was incorporated into her routine.
The routine earned her a score of 12.166, which means she will not move on to the finals in her event, CBS News reports.
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