Gwen Berry, the Olympic hammer thrower who turned her back on the American flag, said she is proud to wear the Team USA uniform.
The 31-year-old made it through the qualifying round in her first appearance at the Tokyo Games.
“I feel like I’ve earned the right to wear this uniform,” she said as she donned the red, white, and blue uniform with ‘USA’ printed on the front.
“I feel like I’ve earned the right to wear this uniform,” Berry, a vocal BLM activist, said.
The athlete said that she hopes to be standing on the medals stand on Tuesday. If that happens, she promised she would do what she’s been doing whenever she’s on the spotlight.
“I’ll represent the oppressed people,” Berry added. “That’s been my message for the last three years.”
This comes after she turned her back on the US flag during the trials. Her competitors, Brooke Andersen and DeAnna Price, placed their hands on their hearts as they faced the flag while Berry turned to face the stands and held up a shirt with the words ‘athlete activist.’
In the 2019 Pan American Games, she raised her fist during the medal ceremony and got reprimanded for protesting.
“I’m just focused on what I need to do,” Berry said. “Because all those people who hate me, they aren’t here. So they can’t affect me.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended the hammer thrower’s right to ‘peacefully protest.’
She said that while she and President Joe Biden had not spoken about the incident, the president is “incredibly proud to be an American and has great respect for the anthem and all that it represents, especially for our men and women serving in uniform all around the world.”
“He would also say, of course, that part of that pride in our country means recognizing there are moments where we are, as a country, haven’t lived up to our highest ideals, and that means respecting the rights of people, granted to them in the Constitution, to peacefully protest,” she added.
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