Heartbreaking news for Raven Saunders and her family. The proudly out, lesbian athlete won a silver medal for Team USA on Sunday in the women’s shot put event.
Yesterday, Saunders, 25, announced that her mom, to whom she was close, had passed away. Clarissa Saunders died in Orlando, Florida. Some family members told WCBD-TV, a news station in Saunders’ hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, that she died at an Olympics watch party. The date of her death has not been confirmed.
Saunders Tweeted that she was taking a break from social media to concentrate on her mental health and family.
“Hoping off social media for a while to take care of my mental and my family. My mama was a great woman and will forever live through me. My number one guardian angel. I will always and forever love you.”
Hoping off social media for a while to take care of my mental and my family. My mama was a great woman and will forever live through me. My number one guardian angel 🙏🏾 I will always and forever love you. https://t.co/XWOjE56EjI
— Raven HULK Saunders (@GiveMe1Shot) August 3, 2021
Saunders, nicknamed ‘Hulk’, has won hearts and fans over the past few days for both her athleticism and being, in her own words, “A flaming gay”.
I just wanna give a s/o to older lesbians. Ik many of you weren’t allowed to grow up and live in your truth but you are greatly appreciated!!! -Signed a Flaming Gay
— Raven HULK Saunders (@GiveMe1Shot) July 29, 2021
When you defeat all the other masc lesbians. This is the final boss!!! pic.twitter.com/9QHx4de3lO
— Raven HULK Saunders (@GiveMe1Shot) August 1, 2021
The athlete made headlines around the world with her medal-winning performance on Sunday. Firstly, she chose to celebrate her success with some impromptu twerking. Then, when she took the podium, she crossed her arms above her head in the shape of an ‘X’.
She later said she wanted to acknowledge the different communities to which she belonged, telling NBC it represented, “the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet.”
Commenting on the gesture to Associated Press, she said: “Shout out to all my black people. Shout out to all my LGBTQ community. Shout out to all my people dealing with mental health. At the end of the day, we understand it’s bigger than us and it’s bigger than the powers that be. We understand that there’s so many people that are looking up to us, that are looking to see if we say something or if we speak up for them.”
The International Olympics Committee, which bans athletes from making what it deems are political gestures on the podium, subsequently announced it was looking into the incident.
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Today, following the news of Saunders’ mother’s passing, the IOC said it was suspending its investigation.
Spokesperson Mark Saunders said its action against Saunders is, “fully suspended for the time being.
“As many of you will have done, we heard the very sad news this morning of the passing of Raven Saunders’ mother,” Adams said. “The IOC obviously extends its condolences to Raven and her family. (The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee has) informed us that she is being looked after and will be returning home.”