Shot putter Raven Saunders is coming back to the U.S. with her first Olympic medal, but it was her actions after she won that may get the most attention.
After accepting her silver medal, Saunders formed an X above her head on the podium in one of the more obvious and openly political protests at the Tokyo Games. Saunders, who is gay and has struggled with suicidal thoughts, suggested she was speaking out for oppressed people.
She has also used her spotlight to focus on mental health, which has been a hot topic among other Black athletes such as Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka. Saunders said she’s seen depression among her peers go unchecked for a long time.
“It’s okay to need people, and I feel like in our community... we haven’t had access to the resources to be able to do that,” she said.
According to Outsports, there are nearly 180 LGBTQ+ athletes competing in Tokyo, which is triple the number who competed in Rio. “Shout out to all my Black people, shout out to all my LBGTQ community, shout out to everybody dealing with mental health,” Saunders said. “Because at the end of the day, we understand that it’s bigger than us, and it’s bigger than the powers that be.”
With political podium protests officially prohibited, it was unclear if Saunders would face any formal punishment for the move.