U.S Olympian Gwen Berry has spoken out saying that she's earned the right to wear the national uniform.
The thirty-two-year-old hammer thrower from St. Louis has been on the receiving end of criticism for "disrespecting" the U.S flag and anthem during the Olympic trials in Oregon. Berry turned to face the stands and put her hands on her hips, rather than placing their hands on their hearts like the other competitors. She then held up a t-shirt bearing the words "athlete activist."
Of course, Berry's method of protest received mixed reviews with some commending her on standing up for what's right, while others slammed her as "disrespectful."
"Seriously disrespecting her country in front of [the] whole world people like her shouldn't be allowed to complete," wrote one Facebook.
"She is just trying to make a statement and stand out. She made a statement alright and stood for all the wrong reasons. She will have to live with this choice for the rest of her life. She has lost the respect from the people of our country, " another added.
A third said: "She received/earned the opportunity to represent a country. If she doesn't understand that, she should go compete somewhere else."
But Berry had an explanation for her haters, saying that she is representing "the oppressed."
"I feel like I've earned the right to wear this uniform," Berry said on Sunday. "'I'll represent the oppressed people. That's been my message for the last 3 years."
The Olympian made it through the trials safely and she has now also qualified for the finals of the hammer throw which is set to take place on Tuesday. Berry is hoping to be standing on the podium as the Olympic champion.
The trials weren't the first place that Berry chose to protest. 2 years prior to that, she held her fist up during the medal ceremony during the Pan American Games which re-ignited the conversation around sports stars making political statements. However, the negative press around the controversial move isn't going to stop her from doing it again.
"I'm just focused on what I need to do," Berry said. "Because all those people who hate me, they aren't here. So they can't affect me."
Speaking of Berry's move, White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended Berry's right to "peacefully protest."
She added that while Biden hasn't directly referred to the incident, he "is incredibly proud to be an American and has great respect for the anthem and all that it represents, especially for our men and women serving in uniform all around the world."
She continued: "He would also say, of course, that part of that pride in our country means recognizing there are moments where we are, as a country, haven't lived up to our highest ideals, and that means respecting the rights of people, granted to them in the Constitution, to peacefully protest."
You can watch Gwen Berry in action on Tuesday during the hammer throw finals.