First, CONGRATULATIONS to Raven Saunders for taking home the Silver medal! Team USA athlete Raven Saunders is the first athlete to make a protest during the podium ceremony at the Tokyo Olympics in the women's shot put final.
Saunders crossed her arms in an "X" gesture during the medal ceremony, while on the podium alongside gold medalist Lijiao Gong of Team China, and bronze medalist Valerie Adam. The 'X' gesture, she later said represented "the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet."
She continued saying "Shout out to all my Black people. Shout out to all my LGBTQ community. Shout out to all my people dealing with mental health," Saunders stated after competing.
Saunders has previously spoken out about her mental health struggles after taking time out of competing in 2018 after attempting suicide.In 2020, she tweeted, "If not for sending a text to an old therapist I would not be here."
Saunders, is just 25-year-old and took to Instagram to celebrate her win writing:
Gave EVERYTHING for this. If you are BLACK, LGBTQIA+, Or mentally Struggling. This one is for you. S/O to all my fighters
Silver Medal, 3rd Team USA Women’s shot put Olympic medalist ever (we all black 😉)
It's unclear if Team USA will face any penalties as Team USA has stated they do not believe Saunders broke any rules with her gesture. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) relaxed a ban on protests ahead of the Tokyo Games, allowing athletes to "express their views" during press conferences - but political demonstrations are still banned on the medal stand. Saunders gesture wasn't political but seemingly intended to encourage exactly what the Olympics are about, bringing everyone together, right?!