LARGO, Fla. (WFLA) — Anastasija Zolotic is now the first U.S. Olympic woman in history to win a gold medal in taekwondo.
As she competed for Gold, her coach in Largo watched to cheer her on.
“The whole Taekwondo community were texting each other, Facetiming each other, 2 in the morning, 3 in the morning, it was so exciting,” Dennis White said.
White is the master of the U.S. Best Taekwondo Center in Largo. It’s where Zolotic first learned her sport.
“We have an after-school program and she was part of our after-school program,” said White.
As a student, Zolotic first began to compete before the age of 11, then she went on to compete in the National AAU Championship.
“She won that event and I think that was one of the catalysts that led to her competitive streak,” White said.
The competitive streak is what drove her to excel in her sport.
“She’s a winner and she can not accept defeat, period,” said White.
White said it was a thrill as Zolotic won her match in Tokyo.
“She is like family to me,” White said. “Her and my daughter had sleepovers together, and she was such a big part of our competition team, and we traveled literally all over the world together.”
He said when she returns from Tokyo, he will give her a hug and a high five.
“It was gratifying to see her achieve her success and still remember her roots,” White said.