Race Imboden, an American fencer from Tampa, Florida, knelt during the national anthem on Friday as the American team foil gold medalists were honored at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, as a direct protest against Donald Trump.
Imoden, 26, is a three-time Pan American champion and won a bronze medal for fencing at the 2016 Summer Olympics. In the aftermath of the United States men’s foil team victory in Lima, Imboden knelt on the medal podium as the national anthem played.
“We must call for change,” Imboden tweeted. “This week I am honored to represent Team USA at the Pan Am Games, taking home Gold and Bronze. My pride however has been cut shot 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.”
Imboden participated in a similar protest during a World Cup event in Egypt in 2017 and says that he chose to sacrifice his moment at the top of the podium in order to call attention to issues he believes need to be addressed.
Imboden won a bronze medal in the men’s individual foil last Tuesday before helping the United States win gold in the men’s team event on Friday.
Gwen Berry, who won gold in the women’s hammer throw competition on Saturday, also protested during the national anthem. Berry raised her fist in the air during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner.
“Somebody has to stand for all the injustices that are going on in America and a president who’s making it worse,” Berry told USA Today. “It’s too important to not say anything.”
Under Pan American Games rules, both Imoden and Berry could be subject to disciplinary action. Anyone participating in the games has to sign an agreement not to make any political, religious or racial remarks during the Games.