LARGO, Fla. — A Tampa Bay area native Anastasija Zolotic won the United States’ first gold medal in women’s taekwondo by beating Russian athlete Tatiana Minina 25-17 to claim the featherweight division title.
The Largo native has been telling friends and family since she was eight years old that she would be an Olympic champion, and she needed only one trip to the Games to make it happen.
Dennis White operates U.S. Best Taekwondo on Seminole Blvd. in Largo. He has operated the Martial Arts studio for more than 20 years. He said Zolotic started taking classes with him when she was 7 years old.
"She started with me when she was about seven years old and she was in our after-school program and our summer camps until middle school. Around that time, that is when she really made the transition from recreational athlete to a competitive athlete," said Dennis White.
White describes Zolotic as "dedicated and disciplined."
"So much was on the line. I knew she would rise to the occasion," said White. "I was super proud of her and excited for her family, knowing how they must be feeling and it was a special moment."
Zolotic told ABC News about her future plans.
"I think when I get home and land in Florida, I'll be able to celebrate with my family maybe get some big cake, hug my parents. Hopefully, do something fun," said Zolotic. "Another gold medal at the next Olympics, 2024! I'm coming for the World Championships, make a world title."