The mother of Olympian Raven Saunders died days after her winning her first medal. Clarissa Saunders died in Orlando, Florida, where she was attending watch parties for family members of Olympic athletes, according to Raven's coach Herbert Johnson. Raven shared the news on her Twitter account while also announcing she was going to take a break from social media.
"Hoping off social media for a while to take care of my mental and my family," Raven tweeted. "My mama was a great woman and will forever live through me. My number one guardian angel. I will always and forever love you." The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and USA Track and Field issued a statement to Raven and her family.
Some sad news... Olympic Silver Medalist Raven Saunders' mom has died, Raven's coach says.
He says Clarissa Saunders, who we interviewed on Friday, was at #Olympics watch parties in Florida.August 3, 2021
"The USOPC and USATF would like to offer Raven our most sincere condolences," the statement read. "Her mother leaves behind an incredible legacy in her daughter for who we are so proud and grateful to call our teammate. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Saunders family during this difficult time." Raven is expected to return to the U.S. on Thursday. She comes home after finishing second place in the shot put competition with a throw of 19.79 to win the silver medal.
Saunders became a fan favorite for her creative face masks and her hairstyle. When accepting the silver medal, Saunders raised her arms in an "X" formation in support of people who have been oppressed. When talking to the Associated Press about her gesture, Saunders said, "it's the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet."
"I feel amazing, because I know I'm going to inspire so many people," Saunders continued. "About to inspire so many young girls, so many young boys, so many LGBTQ people, people who have battled suicide. So many people would have almost given up...it's not, it's not just about me." Saunders also appeared on the TODAY show and talked about the battles she has dealt with in her life.
"I'm a black female, I'm queer and I talk about mental health awareness — I deal with depression, anxiety and PTSD, a lot — so for me personally, I represent being at that intersection," Saunders revealed. "I decided to use my platform to speak up for all those people, for anyone who represents any part of or any one of those groups, especially, this medals is for [them]."