Race Imboden, Champion Fencer, Takes Knee During Medal Ceremony: 'We Must Call for Change'

Race Imboden, a champion U.S. fencer, took a knee during the national anthem after his team won gold for the U.S. at the Pan American Games in Peru on Friday, calling out Donald Trump, racism, gun violence and the mistreatment of immigrants.

"We must call for change," Imboden, 26, tweeted on Saturday, sharing an image of himself on the podium kneeling as his team mates stood. Although he said he was "honored" to represent the U.S. in the international competition, where the team won gold and bronze, he called out the country's "multiple shortcomings."

"Racism, gun control, mistreatment of immigrants, and a president who spreads hate are at the top of a long list," he wrote. "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," he added, encouraging others to use their platforms in a similar manner.

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.

"In this case, Race didn't adhere to the commitment he made to the organizing committee and the USOPC," the spokesperson said. "We respect his rights to express his viewpoints, but we are disappointed that he chose not to honor his commitment."

Race Imboden
U.S. gold medalist Race Imboden takes a knee during the national anthem ceremony on the podium of the Fencing Men's Foil Team Gold Medal Match Match at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games on August 9 in Peru Leonardo Fernandez/Getty

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.

Also at the Pan American Games, hammer thrower Gwen Berry raised her fist Saturday during the Star-Spangled Banner after winning the gold on Saturday. "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 Saturday night.

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.

Some Americans, including President Donald Trump, have been critical of taking the knee, arguing it is un-American as well as disrespectful to the flag and U.S. military. Although Kaepernick was never signed to play for the NFL again, he became the face of a controversial 2018 Nike campaign with the tagline: "Believe in something. Even if it means losing everything."

Critics pushed for a boycott of Nike over the campaign, but the company ultimately saw a boost in profits.

Race Imboden, Champion Fencer, Takes Knee During Medal Ceremony: 'We Must Call for Change' | U.S.
{{label}}
{{title}}
EDITOR'S PICK