Race Imboden, an American Olympic fencing medalist, took a knee on the podium after earning the team foil gold during the medal ceremony on Friday at the Pan American Games in Peru. Imboden’s protest echoed that of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who used his platform to call attention to police brutality.
“We must call for change,” Imboden tweeted on Friday night. “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 short 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.”
“I chose to sacrifie [sic] my moment today at the top of the podium to call attention to issues that I believe need to be addressed. I encourage others to please use your platforms for empowerment and change,” Imboden said in a second tweet.
It’s possible that Imboden could face consequence from the U.S. Olympic committee. Apparently, athletes at the Pan Am Games “commit to terms including refraining from political demonstrations,” according to NBC Sports.
“In this case, Race didn’t adhere to the commitment he made to the organizing committee and the [U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee],” USOPC spokesperson Mark Jones told NBC Sports. “We respect his rights to express his viewpoints, but we are disappointed that he chose not to honor his commitment.”
This isn’t even the first time Imboden has used his platform to peacefully protest. Imboden and teammate Miles Chamley-Watson took a knee during the national anthem in 2017 at a competition in Egypt. The Guardian has a photo of the pair kneeling here.
Hammer thrower Gwen Berry also peacefully protested at the Pan Am Games this weekend. Berry raised her fist after she won the gold medal on Saturday, during the national anthem, mirroring the protests of Olympic runners Tommie Smith and John Carlos in 1968. “Somebody has to talk about the things that are too uncomfortable to talk about. Somebody has to stand for all of 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 something. Something has to be said. If nothing is said, nothing will be done, and nothing will be fixed, and nothing will be changed.”