OLYMPIAN Gwen Berry turned away from the US flag as she was “p***ed” the national anthem played while she stood on the podium during a trial event.
The Black Lives Matters activist says she feels it was “a set-up” and that she was the anthem was put on “on purpose”.
The music has been played once per evening at US Olympic track and field trials – but on Saturday, it started while Berry was standing on the podium after receiving a bronze medal in the hammer throw.
Disgruntled Berry placed her left hand on her hip and fidgeted before turning to face the stands instead of the US flag, while two fellow contestants placed their hands on their hearts.
As the song came to a close, Berry pulled up her black T-shirt with the words “Activist Athlete” emblazoned on the front to cover her head.
“I feel like it was a setup, and they did it on purpose,” Berry said of the timing of the anthem.
“I was p***ed, to be honest.
“They said they were going to play it before we walked out, then they played it when we were out there.
“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.”
The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee previously that athletes competing in trials can protest, including kneeling or raising a clenched fist on the podium or at the start line during the national anthem.
Berry commended this decision, writing on social media: “We did it… we are making history.
“Shoutout to all those involved in the amazing movement!!”
The activist says that her mission is “bigger than the sport” she wants to represent “her communities and people”.
“I’m here to represent those who died due to systemic racism,” she said.
“That’s the important part. That’s why I’m going. That’s why I’m here today.”
USA Track and Field said the anthem was played every day at the trials according to a published schedule.
“The national anthem was scheduled to play at 5.20pm,” spokeswoman spokeswoman Susan Hazzard said.
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“We didn’t wait until the athletes were on the podium for the hammer throw awards.
“The national anthem is played every day according to a previously published schedule.”
On Saturday, the music started at 5.25pm.
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