Hammer thrower Gwen Berry turns away from flag while anthem plays at trials

EUGENE (Ore.) -- The national anthem was played at least once per night during the U.S. Olympic track-and-field trials. The song started on Saturday as Gwen Berry, an outspoken activist, was standing on top of the podium after she received her bronze medal in hammer throw.Berry placed her left arm on her hip, and she fidgeted while the music played. Berry turned a quarter-turn so that she was facing the flag and not the stands. She pulled out her black T-shirt, with "Activist Athlete” written on the front, and draped the top over her head towards the end.Berry stated that Berry felt it was a set-up and that they had planned it. "I was pissed off, to be truthful."Berry's reaction at the "Star-Spangled Banner" was just as memorable as any on the track on Saturday, the second-to-last day of U.S. Olympic trials. DeAnna Price won with a throw of 263ft 6ins (80.31m) in the heat, which was almost 7ft longer than Berry's throw. Price set the meet record for four of her six throws. The American record was broken by the throws of the last two.Brooke Andersen was second, while Berry took third place by just 2 inches over Janee Kassanavoid. Berry is heading to her second Olympics and has pledged to make Tokyo her platform to raise awareness about the social injustices in her country.USA Track and Field stated that the anthem will be played at 5:20 p.m. each evening at trials. The music began at 5:25 on Saturday. Gwen Berry, third-place finisher in the hammer throwing event, was left. AP Photo/Charlie RiedelBerry stated that "My purpose and mission is greater than sports." "I am here to represent those who have died from systemic racism. That's what is important. This is why I am here. This is why I'm here today.Berry thought it was no coincidence that Berry was in the front of the anthem. At the trials, anthems don't play in conjunction with medal ceremonies like the Olympics. The hammer throwers were awarded just before the beginning of the evening session. This was despite the fact that they had been practicing the videotaped version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" all week.Susan Hazzard, spokeswoman for USA Track and Field, stated that the national anthem would be played at 5:20 today. We didn't wait for the athletes to be on the podium for the hammer throwing awards. According to a published schedule, the national anthem will be played each day. The music began at 5:25 on Saturday.So Price and Andersen sat still on the podium, their hands crossed over the hearts, and looked straight ahead at the American flags. Berry fidgeted, and then she paced on the third step. She then turned her back and grabbed her T-shirt.Berry said, "They said that they would play it before we walked out. Then they played it when they were out there." "But I don’t want to talk about anthem, because it’s not important. I don't believe the anthem speaks for me. It has never spoken for me.The still-fulling stands were silent to her gestures. They were something that was much less than what they were two summers back, when Berry raised her hand on the podium after she won the Pan-Am Games.The demonstration resulted in a sanction but eventually prompted the U.S. Olympic Committee and Paralympic Committee not to punish athletes who kneel or raise their fists at trials or in Tokyo. This could be a flashpoint for Tokyo where the IOC has stated that it will enforce Rule 50, which bans demonstrations within the lines. This is the same prohibition that sent Tommie Smith and John Carlos home from the Mexico City Games 1968.Price, who was only the second woman to break 80 meters in history, shared the stage with Berry."I believe people should be free to say what they like. Price stated, "I'm proud of her."Berry stated that she must get her body, mind and spirit "right" for the Olympics. August 1 is the start of the women's hammer throwing.Berry believes she doesn't need to be at the Tokyo podium to make the most impact.She said, "I don’t need to do any sport-wise." "I need to speak up for my community, represent my community, and help my community. Because it's more important that sports.This report was contributed by The Associated Press.