Old Photo of Olympic Track and Field Athlete Gwen Berry Championing American Flag Resurfaces Amid Controversy

by Suzanne Halliburton

Gwen Berry, who made the U.S. Olympic team late last month in the hammer throw, continues to draw fire.

There’s now another Berry photo going viral. This is one from the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Berry, who was competing in her first Olympics, held up the American flag with pride. The New York Post used two photos of Berry in a tweet, as a kind of before and after. One showed her last weekend protesting during a national anthem ceremony. The other was from 2016 when she made the Olympic team.

The New York Post said: “Old Gwen Berry photo shows her beaming while holding US flag amid Old Glory controversy.”

On June 26, Gwen Berry and two other American athletes won the three spots in the hammer throw to compete at the Olympics in Tokyo. They were in the stadium in Eugene, Oregon, for a podium ceremony. At the same time, the Star Spangled Banner started playing. The track trials played the anthem once a day. The anthem caught Berry off guard.

She turned away from the anthem and then put a shirt over her head. She considers herself an “activist athlete” and has protested during past podium ceremonies. In 2019, when she won the hammer throw at the Pam Am Games in Lima, Peru, she held up a clenched fist at the end of the Star Spangled Banner. The U.S. Olympic Committee placed her on a year’s probation for the protest. However, earlier this year, the USOC lifted its rules and will allow such protests.

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Gwen Berry Comes From Military Family, But She Takes Issue with Parts of National Anthem

Gwen Berry comes from a military family. In previous interviews, she said she objects to the third verse of the national anthem, which mentions slavery. She said the anthem disrespects Black Americans.

 In an interview with the Black News Channel, Gwen Berry said:

‘I never said that I didn’t want to go to the Olympic games, that’s why I competed and got third and made the team.”

She continued: “I never said that I hated the country. I never said that. All I said was I respect my people enough to not stand for or acknowledge something that disrespects them. I love my people. Point blank, period.”

“If you know your history, you know the full song of the national anthem,” Gwen Berry said. “The third paragraph speaks to slaves in America — our blood being slain … all over the floor.”

“It’s disrespectful, and it does not speak for black Americans.”

Donald Trump Jr., the son of the former president, tweeted: “Totally not all an act! She was definitely not protesting to get attention for herself and/or maybe some of those woke Nike sponsorship dollars. … 100% legit and not at all a cottage industry victimization scheme we see so much of these days.”

Gwen Berry said her protests in 2019 cost her about $50,000 in endorsements.

Chances are, Gwen Berry won’t medal in Tokyo. No American woman has ever placed in the top three since the hammer was added as a women’s event in 2000. However, DeAnna Patterson, who won the trials, is the defending world champion from 2019, so maybe she’ll break the American streak of frustration.