Olympian Raven Saunders paid tribute to her mother, who passed away just days after Saunders won silver for Team USA.
Saunders, who won a silver medal for women’s shot put Sunday (1 August), announced on Twitter that she will be “hoping off social media” to “take care of [her] mental and my family” after losing her “number one guardian angel”, her mother Clarissa Saunders.
She described her mother as a “great woman” who will “forever live through me”.
“I will always and forever love you,” she added Tuesday (3 August).
The news of Clarissa’s passing was later confirmed by Raven Saunders’ longtime coach, according to CBS affiliate Live5News.
Just days before, Clarissa had given an interview to Live5News from an Olympics watch party in Florida.
In a clip which Saunders retweeted, the proud mother said it was a “bummer” to not be able to physically be with her daughter at the Tokyo Games, but said the family was “cheering” her on all the way from the US.
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
In a touching tribute on TikTok, Saunders said that she had been sharing laughs with her mother just the “day before” she passed.
In a video she shared pictures of her and her mother, with the caption: “lost my Twin two days after winning an Olympic silver medal.”
Raven Saunders took a stand for oppressed people
Raven Saunders made headlines at the Olympics after taking a stand against oppression on the winners’ podium.
After accepting the silver medal, Saunders raised her arms to make an “X”. Later, she explained that the gesture represented the “intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet”.
“Shout out to all my Black people,” she told journalists. “Shout out to all my LGBTQ community. Shout out to all my people dealing with mental health.”
Raven Saunders of Team United States makes an ‘X’ gesture during the medal ceremony for the Women’s Shot Put. (Getty/ Ryan Pierse)
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had announced that it would be looking into whether the gesture violates a rule which prohibits athletes from “every kind of demonstration or propaganda, whether political, religious, or racial” whether on a field or on the podium.
The IOC suspended its investigation in light of Saunders’ family tragedy. According to ESPN, Mark Adams, a spokesman for the IOC, said Wednesday (4 August) that the committee “extends its condolences to Raven and her family”.
“Given these circumstances, the process at the moment is fully suspended,” Adams said.
The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, which supported Raven Saunders’ gesture, thanked the IOC for the pause. The US group said in a statement: “We appreciate the empathy shown toward Raven by the IOC during this difficult time.”