Raven Saunders poses with the silver medal in the U.S. Olympic Trials shot put, having made their third U.S. Olympic team. | Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Raven Saunders — out, proud, masked and fierce — was a special story in winning silver in the shot put at the Tokyo Olympics three years ago. They brought more of the same to the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., Saturday night.

Saunders finished second at 19.90 meters (65 feet, 3 1/2 inches) to gain their third bid to the Olympic Games. In addition to competing in Tokyo, they made the U.S. team for Rio in 2016, placing fifth.

As reported by AP and confirmed in their Instagram bio, Saunders’ pronouns are they/them.

They set the tone for Saturday’s competition with a screaming opening throw at 19.88 (65 feet, 2 3/4 inches).

Saunders started fast but ended up with a comeback bid on the final throw, falling inches short (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

In the second round of throws, home state hope Jaida Ross — a former University of Oregon thrower and a two-time Oregon state high school champ — put up a 19.60-meter (64 feet, 3 1/2 inches) effort that stood up for third and the final seat for Paris.

Chase Jackson snatched the competition in the fourth round. The two-time world outdoor champion pushed to 20.10 meters (65 feet, 11 1/2 inches) for her seventh USA Track and Field national championship.

Jackson’s win also booked her first trip to the Olympics. In two previous U.S. Olympic Trials, she finished seventh and fifth.

Saunders fouled two other attempts that could have won the event prior to their final throw which solidified their spot.

Now 28, Saunders made a significant impact in Tokyo. A gesture made on the podium — holding arms above their head in an “X” as a personal expression of support for the intersection of all people — was perceived as a protest and became the subject of an IOC investigation, later dropped.

In the build-up to the Games, they shared Outsports’ list of out Olympians at the Games via social media as well as their own story of coming out to their mother, Clarissa, in third grade. When winning NCAA titles while at Ole Miss, they said they were completely out.

Saunders would be rocked by the news of Clarissa’s death shortly after winning silver in Tokyo. “My number one guardian angel, I will always and forever love you,” they tweeted at the time.

In March 2023, Saunders was hit with a backdated 18-month ban for missing doping tests. The suspension expired in February, ensuring they could attempt to qualify for Paris 2024.

In fierce form Saturday, the 2021 Outsports Female Hero of the Year celebrated by taking off their trademark mask and shades, flashing a fancy manicure and giving the Hayward Field crowd a pre-Olympic celebration twerk.

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