USA’s Zolotic takes historic taekwondo gold while Minina settles for silver and LO Chia-Ling and Hatice Kubra Ilgun scoop bronze

Teenager Anastasija Zolotic of Team USA won a historic gold in the -57kg weight category of the women’s taekwondo competition at the Tokyo 2020 (in 2021) Games, beating silver-medallist Tatiana Minina of ROC in the final match – with Chinese Tapei’s LO Chia-Ling and Hatice Kubra Ilgun of Turkey taking bronze.

The American Anastasija Zolotic, with a series of impressive performances in the -57kg category on 25 July, made history by becoming the first American woman to win Olympic Taekwondo gold.

The 18-year-old, who hails from the state of Florida, followed up from the gold she won at the Pan American Games in 2019 and silver at the Summer Youth Olympics in Argentina, with a 25-17 victory over the ROC athlete Tatiana Minina in the final from the Makuhari Messe Hall A.

“My eight-year-old self was running around the school yard saying I was going to be Olympic champion but she could never have imagined what this moment is like. It’s unbelievable. It really hasn’t sunk in yet,” said an enthused Zolotic about her win. “I can’t believe it. I’m in a bit of shock. I’m just trying to wrap my head around it. It feels wonderful. I came here confident and ready to take the gold. The stars were aligned.”

“Isn’t that amazing?” she said when asked about becoming the first American woman to win Olympic gold in taekwondo. “I’m just glad I can do something to raise its [the sport’s] profile in the US. I just want the country to be proud of me, to share this flood of emotions.”

Another teenage sensation, LO Chia-Ling of Chinese Taipei, twice a junior world champion, picked up bronze by beating Tekiath Ben Yessouf of Niger 10-6 — she shares the third place on the podium with Hatice Kubra Ilgun of Turkey who beat Kimia Alizadeh Zonouzi of the Refugee Olympic Team in a tense 8-6 match.

“This was a great surprise. I never imaged it. I didn’t have any plans before the Games except to take it match by match,” said Lo after picking up her bronze. “I only qualified at the last moment so I didn’t feel much pressure coming here. I just tried to enjoy being at the Games.”

Earlier in the day, the competition was thrown into disarray after the shock elimination of Team GB’s two-time Olympic champion Jade Jones. Her Round-of-16 stage loss to Refugee Olympic Team member Kimia Alizadeh (16-12) was a huge upset as Jones chased what would have been an historic third Olympic title.

The surprise result set the taekwondo world buzzing.

“That’s not how I planned the day to go. Just really frustrated, obviously with myself,” Jones said. “But I wasn’t the best today and I just have to take it on the chin and congratulate the other girl.

“I feel like I am on an emotional roller-coaster already,” she added. “You start to feel a bit better, then feel bad. You just go over it in your head, what you could have done differently. I wish I would have went after it more and not been so scared.”

Despite causing the early sensation, Alizadeh was unable to push on to become the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team member to win gold when she lost to eventual silver winner Minina before the medal rounds.

The Taekwondo competition continues 26 July with the quarters, semis and finals in the women’s -67kg and the men’s -80kg category from the busy Makuhari Messe Hall A.

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