Swimming: Olympic champion Anthony Ervin kneels during US anthem

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Olympic 50-meter freestyle champion Anthony Ervin has joined the ranks of athletes protesting during the US national anthem by kneeling for a rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner at a swim meet in Brazil.

Ervin, 36, who became the oldest man to win an individual Olympic swimming gold with victory in Rio last year, took a knee during the Raia Rapida gala.

The veteran American star, who also won Olympic gold in the 50m free at the 2000 Sydney Games, staged his protest after anchoring the USA team in the mixed 200m medley relay on Sunday, swimming news website SwimSwam reported.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first athlete to kneel for the anthem in a series of protests last year to draw attention to racial injustice.

A fresh wave of protests in the NFL erupted last month after President Donald Trump derided protesting players as "sons of bitches" who should be fired.

Ervin, whose father is a black former Vietnam veteran, appeared to allude to his protest in a post on Twitter on Monday.

"My point is to save lives, and understand the imbalance. We all have our area. I'm a swimmer," Ervin said.

Ervin is one of the few athletes outside of the NFL to join the protests.

Oakland Athletics baseball player Bruce Maxwell also knelt during the anthem last month while several women players opted to stay in the locker room during the anthem before Seattle Reign and FC Kansas City's game in the National Women's Soccer League.

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