Olympic Fencer Takes a Knee

"It was a moment for me to speak up." Here's why Olympic fencer Race Imboden kneeled during the national anthem at the Pan Am Games. 🤺

Making America the best place it can be for everyone

Olympic fencing champion Race Imboden took a knee to call for social change during the men’s foil team gold medal at the Pan-American Games. Imboden says he took a knee for racism, gun violence prevention, mistreatment of immigrants, and the rhetoric of President Trump. This was not the first time Imboden knelt during the anthem. Imboden reportedly also kneeled during the national anthem back in 2017, at a World Cup event in Egypt.

The U.S. Olympic Committee (USOPC) may take action against him for this most recent act of protest: A spokesperson for the national organization explained to NBC Sports that players agree before the Pan American Games to refrain from political statements and demonstrations. During his career with the U.S. national fencing team, Imboden has won 12 gold medals, one silver and two bronze in a combination of individual and team events. He is currently ranked by the International Fencing Federation as second in the world for men's foil.

“I understand people's disgust and I understand people's dislike of the act. But I do know that I didn't do it out of any distaste for the actual flag, or for our country, or anthem. I love our country. I love what it represents and I'm about making America the best place it can be for everyone including everyone in on all the things that make us great,” explains Race Imboden.

Former NFL player Colin Kaepernick popularized kneeling during the national anthem in 2016, calling out the oppression of minorities in the U.S. After his demonstration, the quarterback went unsigned during the 2017 pre-season, leading Kaepernick and his supporters to accuse the league of blacklisting him due to his political views. Also, at the Pan American Games, hammer thrower Gwen Berry raised her fist during the Star-Spangled Banner after winning the gold. He hopes to inspire other young athletes to use their voice.