Days after winning a silver medal for women’s shot put at the Tokyo Olympics, Raven Saunders revealed that her mother, Clarissa Saunders, has passed away. On Twitter, the U.S. athlete said she was taking a break from social media in wake of the tragic loss.
“Ho[p]ping off social media for a while to take care of my mental and my family,” Saunders tweeted on Tuesday (Aug. 3). “My mama was a great woman and will forever live through me. My number one guardian angel I will always and forever love you.”
In an Instagram post, she added, “I’ll miss your love, your smile, your hugs, your advice, your jokiness, your random twerks. Our last conversation was one of the best ever.”
In light of the tragedy, the International Olympic Committee announced it would suspend its investigation into the gesture that Saunders made at the podium on Saturday (July 31). Saunders, who is a 25-year-old Black, LGBTQ+ athlete; crossed her arms to form an X when she accepted her silver medal. She later said the gesture symbolized “the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet.”
“My message is to keep fighting, keep pushing, keep finding value in yourself, find value in everything you do,” she added.
According to CNN, the IOC was set to investigate the gesture as a possible violation of its rule banning all forms of protest on the podium. However, on Wednesday (Aug. 4), committee spokesperson Mark Adams said the probe is “fully suspended for the time being.”
“As many of you will have done, we heard the very sad news this morning of the passing of Raven Saunders’ mother,” Adams said. “The IOC obviously extends its condolences to Raven and her family. [The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee has] informed us that she is being looked after and will be returning home.”
“Not being there is a little bummer, but hey, we’re cheering from here,” she told the outlet. “So she’ll do good. I’m pretty sure she’ll do good.”
Her cause of death has not yet been confirmed. See Saunders’ tweet below.