US fencing medalist kneels on podium during national anthem at Pan Am Games

US fencing medalist kneels on podium during national anthem at Pan Am Games

An American who medaled in fencing at the Pan American Games took a knee during the national anthem to protest racial and social injustice. 

Race Imboden, who earned a bronze medal in the individual men’s foil event and a gold in the team competition, knelt as the national anthem was played during a medal ceremony during the competition Friday in Lima, Peru. 

Imboden is pictured on the podium kneeling as his teammates Gerek Meinhardt and Nick Itkin are stand.

This week I am honored to represent Team USA at the Pan Am Games, taking home Gold and Bronze,” Imboden said on Twitter following his protest. “My pride however has been cut short by the multiple shortcomings of the country I hold so dear to my heart.”

Imboden, 26, added that “Racism, Gun Control, mistreatment of immigrants and a president who spreads hate” were atop the list of shortcomings he sees in the United States. 

I chose to sacrifie my moment today at the top of the podium to call attention to issues that I believe need to be addressed,” he said. “I encourage others to please use your platforms for empowerment and change.”

“Every athlete competing at the 2019 Pan American Games commits to terms of eligibility, including to refrain from demonstrations that are political in nature. In this case, Race didn’t adhere to the commitment he made to the organizing committee and the USOPC,” Mark Jones, U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) spokesman said in a statement, according to The Associated Press

“We respect his rights to express his viewpoints, but we are disappointed that he chose not to honor his commitment. Our leadership are reviewing what consequences may result,” he added.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick became the first professional athlete in 2016 to kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality. Dozens of amateur and professional athletes have replicated Kaepernick’s protest in the ensuing years. 

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