With a bright professional career on the horizon, U.S. shot put champion Raven Saunders is concluding her Ole Miss career and stepping away from the track for a time as she returns to full health.
"I am eternally grateful for the opportunities and understanding that my teammates, the coaching staff and the administration have expressed to me," Saunders said. "With a heavy heart, it saddens me to say that I have decided to leave Ole Miss and take some time to focus on myself.
"Over time, I have been dealing with some personal and medical issues that have led me to come to this decision. However, I intend on returning to complete my degree from the University of Mississippi. Thank you to Rebel Nation and my Ole Miss family for your love and support over the past few years. Hotty Toddy!"
"While I am sad that Raven will no longer be competing for Ole Miss, I support her decision to work on herself and her medical matters," said Rebel head coach Connie Price-Smith. "I thank her for all that she has done for our program and wish her nothing but the best in her future endeavors."
Saunders, a native of Charleston, South Carolina, leaves as the top shot putter in the history of the NCAA both indoors and outdoors. Saunders won four total NCAA titles, two as a Rebel (outdoors 2016, indoors 2017) and two her freshman season at Southern Illinois before following Price-Smith and her staff to Ole Miss.
She holds both collegiate records at 19.56m (64-02.25) indoors and 19.33m (63-05.00) outdoors. Both her indoor collegiate best and her all-around career-best of 19.76m (64-10.00) to win the 2017 USA outdoor title rank fourth in the history of the United States on the respective indoor and outdoor lists.
Saunders earned a spot on Team USA for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio, where she advanced to the final as the youngest in the field. She finished fifth overall in a historic shot put competition for the U.S. at what was then a career-best 19.35m (63-06.00).