by Ben Morse | CNN
The 25-year-old raised her hands and crossed them in an X as she and her fellow medalists posed for photos, telling NBC that it “represents the crossroads where all oppressed people meet.”
Saunders – a black, LGBTQ athlete – placed her first Olympic Medal on Saturday, finishing with a distance of 19.79 metres.
China’s Gong Lijiao won the gold and New Zealand’s Valerie Adams won the bronze.
And after winning her medal, she says she wants to be a role model for others like her.
“For me, just being who I’ve always wanted to be, being able to be me and not apologizing for it[and]showing the younger generation what they tell you, no matter how many boxes they try to fit you into.” Do, you can be you,” she told the media.
“People tell me not to get tattoos and piercings, but look at me now, I’m popping.”
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has Said It is looking at the gesture Saunders made on the podium, a possible violation of the rules banning protest on the medal podium.
“We are in contact with the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee and World Athletics,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said on Monday. “I don’t want to say what those next steps will be until we fully understand what’s going on. We don’t want to pre-empt anything.”
“We try to respect the views of all athletes; We have given them more opportunity to express themselves. Freedom of expression in press conferences, social media, mixed zones. We have created possibilities before the game protests started.
“But one thing we noted is that we did a survey with 3,500 athletes[and]who responded that they wanted to protect the playing field. It would be nice if everyone could respect the views of the athletes. ”
In response to a tweet about her gesture, Saunders tweeted: “Let them try to get this medal. I can’t swim, yet I’m running across the border.”
‘Keep fighting, keep pushing, keep finding value in yourself’
With his flashy mask and medal winning celebration – he turned and then followed one more Dancing for the Cameras – Saunders is one of the biggest characters at the Tokyo Summer Games.
However, she has faced an uphill personal battle before.
Between the 2016 Rio Games and Tokyo, Saunders had to face Suffering from difficult personal challenges, depression and suicidal thoughts. She spoke with CNN earlier this year about “it all boiled down” and how she found support through therapy, meditation and reaching out to close friends.
Now, she wants to encourage others who are struggling with their mental health to get the support they need.
After winning the silver medal, he said, “My message is to keep fighting, keep pushing, keep finding value in everything you do.”
“It means I’m able to walk away with a silver medal because I represent so many people. I know there are a lot of people who are watching me, how many people have messaged me, how many people praying for me.
“I’m glad I got to bring it back for them, not just myself.”
The subject of athletes’ mental health during the Tokyo Games has been the subject of heated discussion after American gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from several competitions citing mental health issues.
Saunders’ nickname – ‘Hulk’ after the Marvel superhero – originated because of the similarity between his mental health journey and the journey of the big, green superhero.
“When I initially became the Hulk, I didn’t know how to separate the Hulk from the Raven. It was hard to wage war between the two, but as life went on, I had to deal with certain things and control the Hulk. And forced to learn how to use the Hulk properly.
“I save it for competitions so Raven can have fun, reach out to people, seek therapy, do yoga, meditate—all these things are meant to build a strong mind. Without a strong mind your body Can’t be stronger.”
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