American sprinter Noah Lyles raised a gloved first before his 100-meter final at Olympic track and field trials on Sunday as he looked to spread his message.
Lyles didn’t make it to the podium with a seventh place finish but raised the fist when he was announced before the race. It was a subtle gesture akin to Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ fist raise at the 1968 Olympics.
“We’re still dying in the streets,” Lyles said after the race. “Just because we stopped talking about it in the news or just because the Olympics are going on, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. I am Black.”
Lyles is entering some murky waters with his demonstration.
The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USPOC) determined earlier this year it would not sanction athletes who used the trials to demonstrate, while International Olympic Committee officials have said it would enforce Rule 50, which bans demonstrations in the lines.
The USPOC said it would not discipline athletes who partake in so-called “acceptable demonstrations” set forth by their own guidelines. Raising a fist, kneeling during the anthem and wearing hats or masks with “Black Lives Matter” or “equality” are all acceptable under USPOC guidelines.
“To be honest, you could hear a report about me tomorrow dying for no reason,” Lyles added. “I’m pretty sure some people would be sad. But at the end of the day, I wouldn’t be the only one — probably another after that, another after that. This needs to stop.
“It’s something I believe in. I felt like it was important I throw up some symbol. I’ve done it before and I’m going to continue to do it.”
Lyles is the reigning world champion in the 200-meter sprint.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.