LIMA, Peru — Two United States gold medal winners could face sanctions after staging dramatic podium protests against US President Donald Trump at the Pan American Games in Lima.
Gwen Berry stunned the crowd when she raised a clenched right fist and bowed her head as the US national anthem closed her gold medal ceremony for the women’s hammer.
The 30-year-old’s protest, which she told US media was aimed at “extreme injustice,” echoed the iconic raised fist protest of US sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico.
Two-time Olympian fencer Race Imboden set the tone after ‘taking a knee’ as his team celebrated gold in the team foil event.
He was the latest US sports star to follow National Football League quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose kneeling protest during the US national anthem before games in 2016 became a national issue.
“We must call for change. This week I am honored to represent Team USA at the Pan Am Games, taking home gold and bronze,” tweeted Imboden.
“My pride, however, has been cut short by the multiple shortcomings of the country I hold so dear to my heart. Racism, Gun Control, mistreatment of immigrants and a president who spreads hate are at the top of a long list.
“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.”
Imboden had already staged a similar kneeling protest at the 2017 Fencing World Cup in Egypt.
Mark Jones, vice president of communications for the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), told ESPN that the governing body was considering what sanctions it might impose.
“Every athlete competing at the 2019 Pan American Games commits to terms of eligibility, including to refrain from demonstrations that are political in nature,” Jones said in a statement to the US sports network.
“In these cases, the athletes didn’t adhere to the commitment they made to the organizing committee and the USOPC.
“We respect their rights to express their viewpoints, but we are disappointed that they chose not to honor their commitment. Our leadership is reviewing what consequences may result.”
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