'I never meant any disrespect and apologize if I offended anyone,' the 20-year old tweeted
Gabby Douglas has a new gold medal and few choice words for her critics.
The athlete is hitting back at detractors following the U.S. women’s gymnastics squad taking first place in the overall team competition in Rio — the first time a U.S. women’s team has won gold at two consecutive Olympics. Douglas found herself at the center of controversy after being the only member of the Olympic team’s “Final Five” who didn’t place a hand over her heart as the national anthem played during Tuesday’s medal ceremony. She later cleared the air, tweeting a response to the incident on Wednesday morning.
“First I want to say thank you everyone for all your support!! It’s a huge honor for me to be able to represent #TeamUSA,” she wrote. “In response to a few tweets I saw tonight, I always try to stand at attention out of respect for our country whenever the national anthem is played. I never meant any disrespect and apologize if I offended anyone.
The three-time Olympic gold medalist continued: “I’m so overwhelmed at what our team accomplished today and overjoyed that we were able to bring home another gold for our country!”
Social media quickly pounced on the 20-year old’s stance shortly after the ceremony, claiming it was disrespectful to a long-standing tradition and, therefore, to the country itself, despite there being no official statute requiring American competitors to place a hand on their chest as “The Star-Spangled Banner” plays.
One Twitter user went as far as to compare Douglas to Donald Trump, while others saw the gesture as the Olympian pledging allegiance to the Black Lives Matter movement, as the medal ceremony took place on the two-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death.