2020 Tokyo Olympics: Raven Saunders’ Mother Passes Away Days After Watching Daughter Win First Medal

by Clayton Edwards

Raven Saunders took home the silver medal for shot put on Sunday. However, the passing of her mother just days after that win may mar her memory of the momentous occasion. Clarissa Saunders died Tuesday in Orlando, Florida. She was there to attend Olympic watch parties with the families of other Olympians. They all wanted to be there to cheer their loved ones on in person. However, COVID-19 restrictions kept families, friends, as well as fans away from the games in Tokyo this year.

Raven Saunders’ longtime coach, Herbert Johnson announced Mrs. Saunders’ passing yesterday morning in a Facebook post. In that post, he asked fans as well as members of his Track and Field Academy to send their love and prayers to Raven and her sister Tanzy in this trying time.

Shortly after Herbert Johnson made the announcement, Raven Saunders took to Twitter to share a few words. The silver medalist said that she would be taking a break from social media “for a while,” to focus on her family and mental health. About her mother, Saunders said, “My mama was a great woman and will forever live through me.” She went on to say that Clarissa was her number one guardian angel. She finished the heartfelt post with “I will always and forever love you.”

Raven Saunders’ Long Distance Support System

Raven Saunders’ tweet also contained a video posted by an anchor for Charleston, South Carolina’s CBS affiliate. That video features an interview with Clarissa and Tanzy Saunders. Hearing them talk about Raven and her Olympic performance is truly heartwarming.

 When talking about Raven, you can see the pride all over Clarissa Saunders’ face. She was all smiles while discussing her daughter. She said that not being in Tokyo with Raven was a “bummer,” but was glad that she could cheer her daughter on among the families and friends of other Olympians.

They couldn’t be there but both women confirmed that they had been speaking to Raven Saunders regularly. When asked what they had been saying to her, Tanzy said, “Just to stay focused, keep your head up, stuff like that. If you believe you can do it, you can do it.”

The video was taken just before Raven Saunders took the silver medal for shot put. When asked what she would say to her daughter right before the competition, Mrs. Saunders laughed. She said, “It’s a little thing I don’t know if I can say it on TV. But, there’s a little thing I always tell her.” She and Tanzy share a laugh at this. Whatever it was, one can imagine that Raven was hearing her mother’s voice in her mind as she stepped onto the field.

It’s heartbreaking to know that Raven Saunders lost her mother while in Tokyo. However, it is nice to know that Mrs. Saunders saw her daughter standing on the podium before she passed.