American shotputter Raven Saunders has explained her gesture on the podium after winning Olympic silver on Sunday.
The 25-year-old put her hands above her head in a ‘X’ and was asked about it by the media afterwards.
”It's the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet," she explained, adding that her goal is “to be me, to not apologise.”
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“To show younger people that no matter how many boxes they try to fit you in, you can be you and you can accept it.
“People tried to tell me not to do tattoos and piercings and all that. But look at me now, and I’m poppin’.”
In January 2020 she revealed that two years prior she had tried to take her own life, wanting to share her story after reading about Bryce Gowdy, a 17-year-old black man from Florida who committed suicide with immense financial pressures on him.
She is one of many athletes who has spoken openly about her mental health and her openness has won her a cult following on social media, as has her Hulk- and Joker-inspired face masks.
Are athletes allowed to protest on the podium at the Olympics?
In July the IOC announced it was relaxing rules around athlete protests at the Tokyo Games, having previously instructed athletes not to take political stances under Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter.
However, protests on the podium such as the iconic Black Power salute by Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics were not expected to be permitted.
“Rule 50.2 provides a framework to protect the neutrality of sport and the Olympic Games,” a statement from the IOC said. “While asking for more opportunities for athlete expression during the Olympic Games, global athlete representatives expressed their support for keeping the podium, the field of play and the ceremonies free from any form of protest.”
The IOC confirmed on Monday it was looking into Saunders' actions, and had made contact with World Athletics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
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