U.S. fencer Race Imboden has revealed the inspirational role his mother played in his decision to protest President Donald Trump by taking a knee during a medal ceremony at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, on Friday.
On Monday’s broadcast of “CNN Tonight,” Imboden recalled reading a social media post from his mom saying that “it’s time to use your voice” right before walking to the podium as part of the gold medal-winning foil team.
“And I couldn’t think of a better time to use my voice than when I had just succeeded and won a competition and was at a moment that really for me is the pinnacle for my happiness,” the 26-year-old told host Don Lemon.
Imboden’s mother was “proud” of what he did, he added, although now “a little nervous and definitely a little worried.”
Imboden tweeted Friday that his pride in representing Team USA had 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,” he wrote. “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.”
This month’s mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, also prompted him to protest, he told Lemon. “I just think seeing that kind of violence happen in a country that you love and that you represent, it’s difficult to swallow,” he said.
The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee is investigating Imboden’s protest.
Not competing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics would be terrible, he added, but “it feels to me like something bigger than me, to stand up for people who don’t have voices.”
Check out the interview here: