It’s hard to imagine any Olympian had more fun competing and winning a medal at the Tokyo Olympics than American shot putter Raven Saunders, she of the multicolor hair, the Joker and Hulk face masks and the celebratory twerking. It all added up to a silver medal on Sunday.
Saunders who is out and proud as a member of Team LGBTQ, won the silver medal with a toss of 19.79 meters (64.9 feet). World champion Gong Lijao of China took the gold and New Zealand’s Valerie Adams the bronze.
“I want to give a shout out to all the LGBTQ community,” Saunders said in a post-match interview on NBC.
Saunders had a lot of fun posing for the camera after taking the silver:
After her last throw, she twerked:
Saunders went with a two-tone lavender and green hair color for the final and sported a Hulk mask, a day after her Joker one went viral:
All in all, it was a great time for the athlete who calls herself the “Hulk,” because, “You don’t mess with the Hulk. Because if you see the Hulk, you go the opposite way.”
But Saunders, who is from South Carolina and went to Ole Miss, doesn’t shy from her battles with mental health as a woman moving to Mississippi who was “young, black and gay” and came “probably about 10 or 15 minutes from trying to end my life,” before she got the help she needed.
She also is unpologetically out and I loved her shout-out to those who paved the way for her to be as open as she is. “I just wanna give a s/o to older lesbians. Ik many of you weren’t allowed to grow up and live in your truth but you are greatly appreciated!!! -Signed a Flaming Gay,” she posted on Twitter this week.
After finishing fifth in Rio, Saunders now has an Olympic medal and a growing fan base who knows the real deal when they see it. (And five minutes after I posted this, she retweeted it. OK, I’m a fan for life!)