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Raven Saunders’ X podium protest: What it means and why the IOC is investigating


US shot-putter Raven Saunders has defined what the gesture she made following her silver medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics meant.

The 25-year-old raised her palms and crossed them in an X as she and her fellow medal winners posed for photographs, telling NBC that it represented “the intersection of the place all people who find themselves oppressed meet.”

Saunders – a Black, LGBTQ athlete – bagged her first Olympic medal on Saturday, ending with a distance of 19.79 meters.

China’s Gong Lijiao gained gold and New Zealand’s Valerie Adams the bronze.

And after successful her medal, she says she desires to be a task mannequin for others like her.

“For me, simply being who I all the time aspired to be, to have the ability to be me and not apologize for it (and) present the youthful technology that it doesn’t matter what they inform you, regardless of what number of containers they fight to suit you in, you could be you,” she advised the media.

“People inform me to not do tattoos and piercings, however now take a look at me, I’m popping.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it is wanting into the gesture Saunders made on the podium, a possible breach of guidelines banning protests on medal podiums.

“We’re in touch with US Olympic and Paralympic Committee and with World Athletics,” stated IOC spokesman Mark Adams on Monday. “I don’t wish to say what these subsequent steps could be till we totally perceive what is happening. We don’t wish to pre-empt something.”

“We attempt to respect the views of all the athletes; we’ve given them extra alternative to specific themselves. Freedom of expression in press conferences, social media, combined zone. We’ve created potentialities earlier than the sport begins to make protests.

“But one factor we have now famous is we did a survey with 3,500 athletes (and) all those that answered wished to guard the area of play. It could be good if everybody might respect the views of athletes.”

In reply to a tweet about her gesture, Saunders tweeted: “Let them attempt and take this medal. I’m working throughout the border though I can’t swim.”

READ: Depression drove her close to suicide. Now, Olympian Raven Saunders wants to ‘destigmatize mental health’

Saunders makes an 'X' gesture during the medal ceremony.

Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Saunders makes an ‘X’ gesture throughout the medal ceremony.

With her eye-catching masks and celebration after successful her medal – she twerked and then adopted it up with another dance for the cameras – Saunders is considered one of the largest characters at the Tokyo Summer Games.

However, she has beforehand confronted a tricky private battle.

Between the 2016 Rio Games and Tokyo, Saunders faced troublesome private challenges, affected by melancholy and suicidal ideas. She spoke with CNN earlier this yr a few time “it all boiled over” and how she discovered assist by means of remedy, meditation and reaching out to shut mates.

Now, she desires to encourage others who’re combating their psychological well being to get the assist they want.

“My message is to maintain combating, hold pushing, hold discovering worth in your self, in every thing you do,” she stated after successful her silver medal.

“It means quite a bit to have the ability to stroll away with a silver medal as a result of I do signify so many individuals. I do know there are such a lot of folks which have been wanting as much as me, so many individuals which have messaged me, so many individuals which have been praying for me.

“I’m joyful I get to convey this again for them, not simply myself.”

Saunders performing her X gesture on the shot put medal podium.

Francisco Seco/AP

Saunders performing her X gesture on the shot put medal podium.

The subject of athletes’ psychological well being has been a subject of scorching dialogue throughout the Tokyo Games after US gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from quite a few competitions citing her psychological well being.

Saunders’ nickname – ‘Hulk’ after the Marvel superhero – originated due to the similarities between her psychological well being journey and the journey of the large, inexperienced superhero.

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Saunders competes in the women's shot put final.

Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Saunders competes in the ladies’s shot put ultimate.

“When I initially turned the Hulk, I didn’t know methods to differentiate the Hulk from Raven. It was form of onerous to battle between the two, however as life went on, I used to be compelled to take care of some issues and learn to compartmentalize, to manage the Hulk and use the Hulk in the proper means.

“I save it for competitions in order that Raven can have enjoyable, attain out to folks, search remedy, do yoga, meditate – all these issues to create a powerful thoughts. Without a powerful thoughts, you possibly can’t have a powerful physique.”

George Ramsay contributed to this report.

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