Berry builds momentum toward Olympics
LOIS ELFMAN | 2/11/2021, midnight
Hammer thrower Gwendolyn Berry is focused on training and preparing to be her best at the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo. A two-time Pan Am Games gold medalist, Berry is working to add Olympic champion to her resume. She hopes to have her first outdoor meet in a few weeks.
When she takes the field, Berry will stand strong in her convictions. At the 2019 Pan Am Games, she gave a Black power salute at the medal ceremony. Her actions earned her a reprimand and cost her sponsorships. She said events she had experienced and witnessed that year had troubled her spirit, and when she got on the podium she felt the need to make a statement.
“I knew that there would be repercussions, but I stood steadfast because of the support of my family and friends,” said Berry, the mother of a teenage son. “Once the sponsorships dropped, they did everything they could to rally behind me to make sure I was able to sustain my career.”
The postponement of the Olympic Games last year due to the pandemic was certainly disappointing, but Berry, 31, said it was a blessing in disguise. “I had time to look at my technique. I had time to figure out my body. I had time to get adjusted to my age and my aches and pains,” she noted.
Berry, who trains in Texas, and her coach kind of started over and implemented some fresh technical cues and ideas. The Olympic postponement gave her time to adjust. She remains highly motivated and appreciates the platform that sports provide to address racial justice.
“I can speak on behalf of those who can’t speak,” said Berry. “A platform gives you a bigger voice. For me, it’s maintaining the platform so I can continue to speak out because I know that me speaking out is affecting and changing people’s lives. It’s me continuing to build a bridge for my family and others who come behind me, so they have access to opportunities.”
Berry said she can share the knowledge gained through international travel and high level competition with her son. “My son and I definitely have an honesty policy because I don’t want him to endure and go through the things that I see a lot of other kids go through as well as myself,” said the aspiring Olympian.
Her son hopes to play football in college. Berry promises to be the loudest mom at games and her son is looking forward to it. “Me being loud and extremely supportive, he thrives off of that,” she said.