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Raven Saunders’ mom dies days after watching daughter win first Olympic medal

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Clarissa Saunders, the mother of Olympic shot putter Raven Saunders, died on Tuesday — two days after watching her daughter win her first medal at the Summer Games.

Raven, who stirred up controversy by making a symbol of protest during Sunday’s medal ceremony, confirmed the heartbreaking news in a Twitter post.

“My mama was a great woman and will forever live through me,” she said. “My number one guardian angel. I will always and forever love you.”

Clarissa died in Orlando, Florida, The Post and Courier reported. The mother had been staying in the city for Olympic viewing parties with other families of US athletes.

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“It’s just a terrible blow for Raven and her family,” the Olympian’s longtime coach Herbert Johnson told the newspaper.

Raven Saunders competing in the shot put at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on August 1, 2021.
Raven Saunders competing in the shot put at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on August 1, 2021.
EPA/CHRISTIAN BRUNA

Raven won silver with a 19.79 meters toss in the shot put final.

She raised her arms in an “X” formation over her head in a symbolic protest while posing for photographers during the ceremony

Raven Saunders holding her hands up in an "X" gesture after winning the silver medal on August 1, 2021.
Raven Saunders holding her hands up in an “X” gesture after winning the silver medal on August 1, 2021.
Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

The International Olympic Committee is investigating whether the gesture violated “Rule 50,” which prohibits medal ceremony protests.

Raven said the gesture was to support oppressed people “all over the world.”


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