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Gwen Berry: US hammer thrower raises fist in protest before she comes in 11th place and misses out on podium

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US hammer thrower Gwen Berry entered the Olympic stadium with a gesture of protest on Tuesday, raising her fist twice.

“It was the same thing: social injustice, racial injustice,” the athlete later explained to reporters. “I’m just here to represent. I know a lot of people like me, a lot of athletes like me, a lot of people are scared to succeed, a lot of people are scared to speak out. So as long as I can represent those people, I’m fine.”

This is not Ms Berry’s first protest. At the track and field tryouts in June, she turned away from the American flag during the US National Anthem. In 2019, she lost some of her sponsors after making the same raised-fist gesture at the Pan American games in Peru, and was slapped with a 12-month probation by the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

Such protests have made Ms Berry a lightning rod for right-wing anger. Many conservatives have demanded that she be banned from the Olympics. Lara Trump, Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law, has said she hoped the American athlete would lose.

“There are a lot of people who hope she doesn’t make it to that podium because, you know, she’s not doing the right thing with that,” Ms Trump said on Fox News, referring to her National Anthem protest.

Ms Berry does not seem deterred.

“All those people that hate me aren’t here, so they can’t affect me,” the Olympian said on Sunday.

“I feel like I’ve earned the right to wear this uniform because of all my hard work and sacrifices,” she added. “It’s not just about the uniform, it’s about the people who helped me get here, and about my fight, my resiliency.”

Ms Berry did not make it to the podium on Tuesday. In the women’s hammer throw, she came in 11th place out of 12 competitors.

Later, she expressed disappointment in her performance.

“I feel like my body just didn’t work and I was shutting down too much,” Ms Berry told reporters. “When it came time to be clutch, I just didn’t trust myself enough to go. But it happens. I made my first legal throw in the second final of my life so I’m not mad at myself. I conquered a lot of fears today.”

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