Saunders, 25, of Charleston, South Carolina, told The Associated Press the gesture was a nod to “the intersection where all oppressed people meet.”
The self-proclaimed “Hulk” of athletics is black and openly gay and has spoken of his struggles with depression. She said she hoped to honor “people all over the world who are fighting and lacking the platform to speak out,” the BBC said.
Saunders, a three-time varsity champion during her time at Ole Miss, protested after stepping off the podium at the medal ceremony – in violation of the International Olympic Committee’s “Rule 50” on protests at the award ceremony medals.
It is not yet clear what penalties she could incur for bringing politics to the podium.
“I really think my generation doesn’t care,” Saunders said. “We understand that there are so many people who admire us, who are looking to see if we are saying something or if we are speaking for them. “
Her defiant gesture came after she threw the shot from 19.79 meters in the shot put final, just behind 32-year-old Chinese Olympian Gong Lijiao, who threw to 20.58 meters.
Saunders, whose hair is dyed purple and green, turned heads in the qualifying round on Friday when she wore a “Joker” face mask during competition.
In Sunday’s final, she competed under the mask “Hulk” in reference to her nickname.
Saunders told the AP after her silver medal showing her mission is “to be me.” So as not to apologize.
“To show the younger ones that no matter how many boxes they try to put you in, you can be you and you can accept it,” she said.
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“People tried to tell me not to get tattoos and body piercings and all that stuff. But look at me now, and I fall for it.
With post wires