At USATF Outdoor Champs, Raven Saunders carries memory of her mom

    Raven Saunders often carries her Olympic silver medal in the shot put. she always wears a locket containing her mother’s ashes.

    saunders is one of many americans competing this week in their first championship since the tokyo games. A top-three finish at the US Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon, will qualify her for the World Championships in July, also in Eugene, the first to be held in the United States. /p>

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    saunders was one of the rising stars in tokyo. she attracted attention not only by becoming the third American. woman to win an Olympic medal in the shot put, but also because of her character. her green and purple hair, her flexed biceps, and that green mask that fits her nickname, “hulk”.

    At the medal podium, he crossed his arms over his head to form an “x”, which he said was “trying to bring the world together for all the people who have felt abandoned, for all the people who have wanted to be loved but to have been loved less.”

    “I gave everything for this. if you are black, lgbtqia+ or have mental problems. this one is for you, ”she shared her on instagram.

    saunders told that she first opened up to her mother in third grade and by ninth grade was comfortable with who she was. After her Olympic debut in 2016, she had mental health problems and thought about committing suicide.

    Last year, few people knew that Saunders tore his right hip earlier in the season. even fewer knew that he had strained his Achilles tendon entering the Tokyo Olympic Stadium before competing and later winning the silver medal.

    Later, her mother, clarissa, told her, “You have some things in you that I wish I had in me.” They talked about the house and the food truck that were in her future.

    Two days after the final, Saunders received a phone call from the United States. Clarissa had a seizure and was on her way to a hospital, a doctor told her. Saunders’s uncle later called her and told her that Clarissa had passed away.

    “At that point, I lost myself,” Saunders said on last year’s On Her Turf podcast. “I think I dropped my phone. literally hulk smash hit the walls. it was so built for me at the time. it was like, how? especially since we didn’t have our families there [in tokyo], and then losing the no. 1 person who really made a lot of this worth it, she hurt her.

    “talking about it makes it a lot easier and also helps me remember memories.”

    Since returning home from Japan, Saunders has moved to Orlando. she underwent a second hip surgery in the fall (and pitched again a week later). she goes through the airports and receives looks and the question, “is that you…. ?”

    “It’s been a nice, nice change,” he said earlier this month. “It definitely took me a while to get used to because, at first, I’ll be like, why are you staring at me? after a while, now that I have put my energy, people see that I am a real person. help.”

    The hardest part of the last year has been experiencing it all without her mother. They helped each other in difficult times. She said that, at age 12, she protected Clarissa from a boyfriend who was on drugs.

    clarissa was a guardian angel, saunders said. Clarissa called regularly to make sure Saunders was taking her medication for anxiety and depression.

    “The best thing I had to overcome was trying to stand on my own feet and navigate this new space,” she said, adding that continuing therapy sessions and spending time in nature also helped.

    saunders competes on Sunday at the site of the best moments of his career. He qualified for both of his Olympic Games in Eugene. In 2014, he made his international debut at the Junior World Championships at Hayward Field and won a silver medal.

    She also competes during Pride month, which also has meaning.

    “It’s funny how, in the last few years, [Pride Month] has become something that [was] something that was celebrated more within the community,” Saunders said. “Having people and family members say to you, ‘happy pride month,’ especially for so long feeling invisible or rejected and things like that, it really starts to help the whole self-worth and knowing that you’re loved and knowing that people love you. he really cares about you.”

    Although Saunders was the second-best pitcher in the world last year, she ranks sixth among Americans so far in 2022. There are three Americans in the top eight in the world, but not. 9 maggie ewen, who has a bye to the worlds as the current champion of the diamond league season, which she gives to the usa. uu. four places in the world.

    last year, saunders entered the olympic trials ranked 10th in the nation for the year. He then set a personal best of his own in the trials, also at Eugene, to qualify for his second Olympics.

    the reason saunders carries his silver olympic medal with him is so that anyone who recognizes it has a chance to see it. At the same time, she is a source of motivation as she watches him.

    “I have to work harder,” he said. “I have to get gold. I have to improve, I have to shoot further.”

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