COLORADO SPRINGS — A Colorado Springs taekwondo athlete made history at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games.
Anastasija Zolotic, 18 years old, is the first American woman to win a gold medal in the sport. She was also the first athlete from Colorado Springs to win gold and will soon be bringing her medal back to southern Colorado to celebrate with her family.
After beating Tatiana Minina, a russian athlete, 25-17, Zolotic claimed the featherweight division title. News5 asked Zolotic about her experience competing on the big stage, and taking home first place.
"I don't think it's sunk in yet. I'm kind of processing it all, because it's an Olympic gold medal and it's a historic one too," said Zolotic.
Zolotic said she began competing in taekwando when she was five years old. Not long after that when she was in elementary school, she said, "I was kind of like, yea I'm going to be an Olympian. So I pulled up one day at school and I was telling everybody I'm going to be an Olympic champion, and here we are."
Fast forward more than a decade and she made that dream become a reality by winning a gold medal in her Olympics debut.
"It's so unreal and putting it around my neck, I was just looking at it. It's a beautiful medal, god, it's so unreal," said Zolotic.
Zolotic moved from Largo, Florida to Colorado Springs just over two years ago to take her work to the next level. She currently trains at the National Center of Excellence off of Garden of the Gods Rd. at least five days a week. Going there every day and working with her coaches and team helped her accomplish a dream of hers that she's had since she was a kid.
"She's always been the hardest worker in the room, so it's really good being able to work with her and feed off energy from each other," said C.J. Nicholas, a teammate of her's. "After her win, I was speechless, because I've never experienced someone from my country win a gold medal in taekwando. It felt surreal, and it gave me a new drive for sure to be able to go back train harder and get better for the next Olympics."
For the 18-year-old, age is just a number when it comes to making Olympic history and she says she wants to inspire other young athletes when they hear her story.
"It's not just to win an Olympics for myself, it's also to put my sport on the map especially in the U.S., especially for younger athletes to just show them that I am young, I am achieving this, and it means that you could do it too," said Zolotic. "And just because you're eight years old and you want to be an Olympic champion, doesn't mean you can't be. Go and run around those school yards and tell people you're going to be in the Olympics, as long as you put your mind to it, and you can achieve it. That's the kind of role model I want to be."
Zolotic has her eyes set on the 2024 Paris games, but for now she's taking a few weeks off to enjoy the win and time back home.