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Fencer and hammer thrower kneel, raise fist for anthem at Pan Am Games


Fencer Race Imboden and hammer thrower Gwen Berry used their medal ceremonies to make a statement at the Pan Am Games. Imboden, who spent a chunk of his childhood in Park Slope, knelt on the podium while accepting gold in the team fencing competition on Friday. Berry, the American record holder, raised her fist as the gold medalist in the hammer on Saturday.

Imboden’s teammates, Gerek Meinhardt and Nick Itkin, did not kneel. Both Imboden and Berry cited Donald Trump as part of the reason for their protests.

Imboden, left, kneels while accepting gold. (Leonardo Fernandez/Getty Images)

Imboden also won bronze in an individual competition. He said that he kneeled because "I am honored to represent Team USA at the Pan Am Games... 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.”

“Somebody has to stand for all of the injustices that are going on in America and a president who’s making it worse,” Berry said to USA Today. “It’s too important to not say something... If nothing is said, nothing will be done, and nothing will be fixed, and nothing will be changed.”

The U.S. Olympic Committee say it’s considering punishing Imboden and Berry. Pan Am Games team members sign contracts saying they won’t “make remarks or release propaganda of political, religious or racial nature." The USOC told NBC Sports that Imboden “didn’t adhere to the commitment he made to the organizing committee and the USOPC. We respect his rights to express his viewpoints, but we are disappointed that he chose not to honor his commitment" and later made an identical statement about Berry.

Good luck enforcing that for the 2020 Olympics, which start just three months before the presidential election.