Two Americans used their medal-winning moments at the Pan American Games to draw attention to social issues back home that they feel are spiralling out of control.
During their medals ceremonies at the sports festival in Lima, fencer Race Imboden took a knee and hammer thrower Gwen Berry raised her fist. Both athletes could represent the US less than a year from now at the Tokyo Olympics, where similar protests would be seen by a much wider audience.
“Racism, gun control, mistreatment of immigrants, and a president who spreads hate are at the top of a long list” of America’s problems, Imboden said in a tweet sent after his team’s foil medals ceremony. “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.”
Berry raised her fist as America’s national anthem was played to honour her win in the hammer throw. She called out injustice in America “and a president who’s making it worse.”
“It’s too important to not say something,” Berry told USA Today. “Something has to be said. If nothing is said, nothing will be done, and nothing will be fixed, and nothing will be changed.”
The history of high-profile protests at the Olympics dates to the 1968 Games in Mexico City, when sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists during the medals ceremony for the 200-meter dash.