2020 Tokyo Olympics: Raven Saunders Speaks Out About ‘X’ Arm Gesture

by Keeli Parkey

One of the American athletes who has gained a lot of notoriety during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is track and field star Raven Saunders. In addition to winning a silver medal in the shot put, Saunders has captured media attention thanks to the unique masks she wore while competing and for the “X” arm gesture she made when she received her silver medal.

The Charleston, South Carolina, native explained why she decided to make the arm gesture above her head during an interview with TODAY. The idea for the gesture began during a discussion with other Olympians who wanted to take a stance, Saunders said.

“So the X, um, for a lot of the athletes we talked about, um, kind of what was going to be our stance. And what do you, what do we stand for,” Saunders also shared. “And X pretty much represents the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet.”

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics silver medalist then shared a few details about her personal life and how that has impacted how she views her place in the world.

“Um, I’m a black female. I’m queer,” Raven Saunders said. “Uh, and I talk about mental health awareness. I deal with depression, anxiety, and PTSD a lot. Um so me, personally, I represent being really at that intersection.”

Because of her personal experiences, Raven Saunders decided to make the “X” arm gesture.

“So for me, I decided to use my platform to really speak up for all of those people – everyone that represents any part of, or any one of those groups, especially. Like I said, this medal’s for you guys,” Saunders said of her 2020 Tokyo Olympics medal.

Raven Saunders Also Talked About the Masks She Wore During 2020 Tokyo Olympics Competitions

In addition to talking about the “X” arm gesture she made during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics medal ceremony, Raven Saunders also commented on something else that brought her attention during the Summer Games.

Saunders wore a Joker mask during qualifying. She then wore a Hulk mask during the event finals. Interestingly, the Hulk is her nickname. Wearing the masks helped Saunders focus during her events in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“The Hulk is really a way for me to compartmentalize, you know. Um, I talk about mental health,” Raven Saunders also said. “And I talk about mental health awareness a lot, especially with my personal struggles. Um, so for me, the mask is a way for me to channel my inner Hulk.”

Saunders also said the mask represents a very competitive state for her.

“And, you know, Raven still get to, you know, have fun, twerk a little bit, you know, celebrate, you know, dance a little something, something. But, uh, the Hulk – that’s beast mode right there. That’s beast mode,” she explained.