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USA Shot-Putter Raven Saunders Makes 'X' Gesture in Support of Oppressed People

Adam WellsAugust 2, 2021

Raven Saunders, of the United States, poses with her silver medal on women's shot put at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.  During the photo op at her medals ceremony Sunday night, Saunders stepped off the podium, lifted her arms above her head and formed an “X’ with her wrists. Asked what that meant, she explained: ”It’s the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet.” (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
AP Photo/Francisco Seco

United States shot-put athlete Raven Saunders used her moment on the medal podium at the Tokyo Olympics to make a statement.

After winning silver in the women's shot put Sunday, Saunders stepped off the podium during the medal ceremony to raise her arms over her head and form an X.

Asked by reporters about the gesture, Saunders said, "It's the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet."

She also said she wants "to show younger people that no matter how many boxes they try to fit you in, you can be you and you can accept it."

Per USA Today's Christine Brennan, International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said the organization is "in contact" with the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee about the demonstration. 

The gesture could be considered a violation of Olympic Charter Rule 50, which states, "No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas."

Saunders has been open about her mental health, including being diagnosed with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress syndrome.

The 25-year-old Charleston, South Carolina, native has also spoken out about and against the racism and homophobia she has endured as a queer Black woman, particularly when she encountered it as a student-athlete at the University of Mississippi.

A four-time NCAA champion in the shot put, Saunders was competing in her second Olympics. She finished behind China's Lijiao Gong (20.58) with a throw of 19.79 meters. She had finished fifth in the shot put at the Rio Games.