Why Did US Shot Putter Raven Saunders Gesture ‘X’ On Olympic Podium?

Who is Raven Saunders
Who is Raven Saunders: A 25-year-old African-American athlete, popularly known as the ‘Hulk’, was seen crossing her arms in the shape of “X” during the medal ceremony at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday after claiming silver in her event. Raven Saunders has risked disciplinary action after making the first podium protest of the Games but what was the reason behind such action? When asked, the American athlete, who is an outspoken supporter of LGBTQ rights, said the ‘X’ gesture was to show support for “oppressed people”.

Raven Saunders launched her fifth throw 19.79 meters, about 64 feet 11 inches, to claim the silver.

The Hulk, with her dramatic pose on Sunday, delivered a powerful message after winning silver in the shot put. She was spotted wearing the green and red superhero face covering, flaunting the contrasting green and purple hairdo, donning the neon-blue shades and winning hearts as she said she wanted to represent “people all around the world who are fighting and don’t have the platform to speak up for themselves.” Earlier, she was spotted in a grinning Joker mask.

Her protest can be termed as the first test of International Olympic Committee (IOC) rules which ban protests of any kind on the medal podium at the Olympics. However, the IOC later said that peaceful protests before competition would be allowed. Olympic officials on Monday noted they were “looking into” Saunders after she made the first podium protest of the Games.

Who is Raven Saunders?

Saunders is an openly gay American shot putter who has previously revealed that she had battled suicidal thoughts? She was also diagnosed with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress syndrome. The South Carolina native has also openly talked about having substantial issues with mental health a few years back. The 25-year-old track and field athlete has seen poverty and depression ravage her Black community and others like it. “If not for sending a text to an old therapist I would not be here right now,” she said adding, “All these things weighing on me for 22 years, I was finally able to process it.”

Saunders grew up playing basketball before taking up track and field. Her rankings improved and she won the Pan American junior championship, the 2014 USA Track and Field junior outdoor championship and the 2014 New Balance Indoor and Outdoor national championships. She created a shot put record by 11 feet in South Carolina and won the state discus championship by 42 feet. A four-time NCAA champion left the University of Mississippi in 2018 to deal with “personal and medical issues”, as per reports.

In 2016, the 21-year-old had joined Team USA and finished fifth with her final throw of 19.35m at the Rio Olympics. This is her second Olympics. She threw her personal best and broke a trials record.


Saunders was nicknamed “The Hulk” in high school as she has come to adopt it as a sort of alter-ego.

Feature Image Credit: AP News