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Gabrielle Douglas: ‘I Never Meant Any Disrespect’ for Not Placing Hand over Heart

Gymnast Gabrielle Douglas stood at attention for the playing of the “The Star Spangled Banner” in Rio. A few viewers paid attention to the three-time gold medalist not placing her hand over her heart.

On the podium with four teammates who all placed right hands over their hearts, Douglas stood facing the flag with hands by her sides. The performance after the gold-medal performance left some Twittericans outraged over “disrespect.”

Douglas insists she meant none.

“In response to a few tweets I saw tonight, I always stand at attention out of respect for our country whenever the national anthem is played,” Douglas noted on Twitter. “I never meant any disrespect and apologize if I offended anyone. I’m so overwhelmed at what our team accomplished today and overjoyed that we were able to bring home another gold for our country!”

The U.S. Code instructs Americans to “face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart” during the playing of the song. And although the failure of athletes to do just that causes controversy every so often, Douglas’s transgression appears minor next to NBA player Dion Waiters once citing his Muslim faith for refusing to take the court during the anthem. And earlier this week, Michael Phelps laughed on the Olympic podium during the song after the Marylander heard evidence that another Mid-Atlantic tradition related to the one Francis Scott Key established had made its way to South America.

“My boys from Baltimore were down at the other end,” Phelps told NBC’s Michele Tafoya about why he laughed. “And back in Maryland, we all say ‘Oh!’ for the Orioles during that part of the national anthem.”

Gabby Douglas added a gold in Rio to her two from London after the American gymnasts captured first place in the team competition. She called competing for the American team “a huge honor.”

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