Who are Raven Saunders' parents? Shot put star came out to her mother in third grade

Who are Raven Saunders' parents? Shot put star came out to her mother in third grade
Raven Saunders competes in the Women's Shot Put Qualifying Round at Hayward Field on June 24, 2021, in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

On Friday, July 30 (Japanese Time), 25-year-old Raven Saunders placed first in qualifying throws for the women’s shot put finals at the Tokyo Olympics. Saunders’ 19.22-meter throw earned her a spot in the finals, scheduled for August 1. This is her second Olympic final - she finished fifth in the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro at the age of 20.

Saunders is one of the many publicly out LGBTQIA+ athletes competing at the Tokyo Olympics. Hailing from Charleston, South Carolina, Saunders said that she first came out to her mother in third grade. In sixth grade, she was outed to classmates who “had found a notebook of love songs I remixed about this one girl I had a crush on.” A few years later, in ninth grade, Saunders became comfortable with who she was.


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Who are Raven Saunders’ parents?

As per the TeamUSA website, she is the daughter of Herbert Johnson and Clarissa Saunders. Saunders also has one sister, Tanzania. Following her spectacular performance in the Games on Friday, Clarissa Saunders said she wished she could be there in person to see her daughter and “grab a hug.”

“Not being there is a bummer, but we’re cheering her from here,” she said. “She knows we’re here cheering for her, so she’ll do good.” But she added that when Saunders got back to Charleston, she would “hug her for a while!”

Clarissa said that the family had been able to keep in touch with Saunders while she’s in Tokyo, sending her positive messages to stay focused. “If you believe you can do it, you can do it,” Clarissa said. “Even if she doesn’t do it, she’s still accomplished so much. I mean, whether that Gold comes back or not, she’s number one in my book.”

Saunders’ sister Tanzania said that she was still speechless because of the community support she witnessed. Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg was among the supporters who came out to cheer Saunders to her latest victory. “This is so exciting, she just had a great throw,” he said. “We’re so proud of her. All of Team Raven is here, and this morning, all of Charleston is Team Raven. We’re supporting her. It’s incredible!”


Saunders’ life before athletics

"Growing up where I did, I saw a lot of people being complacent and getting what I call stuck,” the athlete said in a 2016 interview. “Kind of frozen in time. They haven't moved on from high school, or maybe they dropped out of high school, or they left Charleston and came back. They've stopped. Sometimes when I might be close to falling off, I talk to my high school coach and he reminds me why I'm doing what I'm doing. I want to be better and to never be satisfied. A lot of times all it takes is for somebody to lend a hand and help. Or someone to pave the way for you to see something else. That there's something's out there. I'm thankful that I was able to make it out."

As per the Olympics website, athletics was not her first sporting love. She said in an earlier interview. "I had hoop dreams. I first picked up the shot put as something to help with basketball. I did not think much of it, but I had been playing basketball since third grade. I was actually thinking of moving to Florida with a cousin before I started with the shot put. So it gave me a reason to stay back home and train." 

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