Athletics-Saunders mourns mother days after winning shot put silver

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Athletics - Women's Shot Put - Medal Ceremony - Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan – August 1, 2021. Silver medallist, Raven Saunders of the United States wearing a protective face mask poses on the podium REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

TOKYO, Aug 4 (Reuters) - The mother of Tokyo Olympic fan favourite Raven Saunders has died, the American athlete said on social media, just days after she won silver in the shot put.

"(Leaving) social media for a while to take care of my mental and my family," she wrote on Twitter. "My mama was a great woman and will forever live through me. My number one guardian angel.

"I will always and forever love you."

Saunders attracted wide support during the Games with her joyous personality and athletics talent, sporting green and purple hair and a grinning "Joker" mask and proudly promoting a nickname equal to her sheer power and strength: "Hulk."

Perhaps her greatest impact at the Olympics, however, came in the form of a podium protest, when she raised her arms into an X above her head, a gesture made in support of oppressed people around the globe.

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and USA Track & Field offered the Saunders family their "thoughts and prayers" in a joint statement.

"The USOPC and USATF would like to offer Raven our most sincere condolences," the statement read. "Her mother leaves behind an incredible legacy in her daughter for who we are so proud and grateful to call our teammate."

Reporting by Amy Tennery in Tokyo; Editing by Lincoln Feast.

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