US hammer thrower Gwen Berry has responded to criticism over turning away from the flag while on the podium at the Olympic trials, saying she "never said that I hated the country."

Berry placed third at the trials in Eugene, Oregon, on Saturday to qualify for her second Olympics, which get underway in Tokyo next month.

She then turned away from the flag while "The Star-Spangled Banner" played during the medal ceremony and draped a T-shirt carrying the words "activist athlete" over her head.

Berry later said she was "set up" on the podium having been told that the anthem would be played before the ceremony.