Champion U.S. fencer takes knee on medal podium during national anthem, calls for social change

LIMA, PERU - AUGUST 09: Gold medalist Race Imboden of United States  takes a knee during the National Anthem Ceremony in the podium of Fencing Men's Foil Team Gold Medal Match Match on Day 14 of Lima 2019 Pan American Games at Fencing Pavilion of Lima Convention Center on August 09, 2019 in Lima, Peru. (Photo by Leonardo Fernandez/Getty Images)
U.S. fencer Race Imboden took a knee during the national anthem at the Pan American Games. (Photo by Leonardo Fernandez/Getty Images)

The U.S. men’s foil team emerged victorious at the Pan American Games in Peru on Friday, earning gold medals for fencers Race Imboden, Gerek Meinhardt and Nick Itkin.

After the team received its gold medals, Imboden took a knee on the medal podium as the national anthem played.

Following the event, Imboden took to Twitter to explain why he took the knee. The main reasons: racism, gun control, mistreatment of immigrants and the rhetoric of President Donald Trump.

Imboden might face repercussions from the U.S. Olympic Committee for his protest, as the NBC Sports reports that athletes commit to refraining from political demonstrations before the Pan Am Games.

From NBC:

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

This reportedly isn’t the first time Imboden has taken a knee on the podium, as NBC reports he mounted a similar protest alongside a teammate at a World Cup event in Egypt in 2017.

Who is Race Imboden?

The 26-year-old Imboden was born in Tampa, Florida, and hails from Brooklyn, New York. A long-time member of the U.S. fencing team, Imboden has tallied 12 gold medals, one silver medal and two bronze medals at the Pan American Games between team and individual events. He scored bronze with the American foil team at the 2016 Olympics.

Currently ranked second in the men’s foil in the world by the International Fencing Federation, Imboden was part of the first U.S. foil team to win a world championship this July. Imboden also moonlights as a professional model, working for the likes of Marc Jacobs, J. Crew and Rag and Bone according to USA Today.

Thanks to his ranking, Imboden is a lock to make the Olympic team for Tokyo 2020. We’ll see what happens if he scores a gold medal there.

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