American gold medalist kneels during national anthem at the Pan Am Games

(CNN) — American gold medalist fencer Race Imboden knelt as the national anthem played Friday at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, to protest racism, gun control, mistreatment of immigrants and President Donald Trump.

“We must call for change,” he tweeted afterward along with a photo. “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 (sacrifice) 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,” he said.

Imboden, 26, was ranked as the world’s second-best in the foil event, and won a bronze medal in the men’s individual foil on Tuesday. On Friday, he helped the US win gold in the men’s foil team event, and then took a knee on the podium as the Star Spangled Banner played.

As Imboden knelt, his teammates Gerek Meinhardt and Nick Itkin stood tall. Several members of the silver medalist Brazilian team saluted and Canada’s bronze-winning team stood quietly.

Taking a knee during the national anthem became a form of civil protest after former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee throughout the 2016 football season in protest of police brutality and injustice against people of color. Since then, many athletes, from NFL players, to soccer star Megan Rapinoe to amateur high schoolers have knelt as a form of protest, sparking anger from Trump and others.

Imboden was not the only American to protest during the anthem at the Pan American Games. Gwen Berry took gold in the women’s hammer throw competition on Saturday, and she raised her fist in the air at the end of the national anthem in protest.

“Somebody has to stand for all of the injustices that are going on in America and a president who’s making it worse,” she told USA Today on Saturday night. “It’s too important to not say something.”

Both could face disciplinary action, as all participants signed agreements not to make any political, religious, or racial remarks during the Games.

US Olympic and Paralympic Committee spokesman Mark Jones said in a statement to CNN Sports that “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 these cases, the athletes didn’t adhere to the commitment they made to the organizing committee and the USOPC.”

“We respect their rights to express their viewpoints, but we are disappointed that they chose not to honor their commitment. Our leadership are reviewing what consequences may result,” Jones said.

™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Originally Published: 11 AUG 19 09:39 ET
Updated: 11 AUG 19 16:25 ET

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  • Kevin Rahe

    Are we supposed to take it that athletes who DON’T kneel for our national anthem think there are no injustices in our country? Silly. Everyone knows there are injustices happening here. However, if we truly uphold the rights enumerated in our nation’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence, then those injustices won’t happen. But when someone kneels for the anthem, it calls into question whether they accept those ideals – i.e. the reasons our country exists.

  • bob

    Imboden should be dismissed from the team and stripped of his medals for violating the terms of eligibility and not allowed on any USA team.

  • Globalism will destroy USA

    Racism? Hahaha Gun Control?? Hahahahaha Mistreatment of immigrants??? Hahahaha do these losers ever think for themselves? Racism is a personal issue. You cant regulate racism out of the racist. Thats there own issue to work out. The most controlled firearms(pistols) are used in more murders than the evil black rifles they want to confiscate/ban. And mistreatment of immigrants is the funniest one. Our nation is the most welcoming in the world. If it werent, why would we have more immigration than any other nation? I think that sheep meant mistreatment of criminal border jumpers. But even that is a lie.

  • BS

    If these idiots really wanted to protest, they would renounce their citizenship and move to some other country that provides more freedom and rights than America. There aren’t any – but they are too stupid to know that.

  • Better common sense

    All of you idiots ☝ piss and moan when someone disagrees with your baseless ideology and uneducated wisdom. Once again, don’t start barking at me kids, I’m not a Democrat. We all have the right to stand for what we believe. I don’t see you mediocre selfs doing anything other than going on platforms hating on the ones that take a stand. Regardless of what your beliefs are, action makes a difference.

    • Kevin Rahe

      So if I took a knee to protest legal recognition of same-gender unions, legalized abortion and a health care law that forces employers to promote things to their employees that aren’t actually health care, you and the mainstream media would support me rather than criticize me? Or do the particular injustices one is protesting against make a difference?

  • steve

    If I owned a sports team, any team member who pulled shit like this would be fired immediately. Regardless if the person was an average player or star status, no difference. He’s gone.

  • Matt McCartney

    There’s one reason for this. How many people watched the Pan Am games? 6? This guy knelt because he knew that by doing so, he would get more coverage personally than any 8 of the last 10 Pan Am games did collectively.

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