LARGO, Fla. (WFLA) — Largo’s own Ana Zolotic made history in Tokyo as the first U.S. woman ever to win gold in Taekwondo.
On Wednesday morning, she woke up for the first time in her own bed since taking home the gold medal.
Zolotic touched down in Tampa late Tuesday night and got a surprise welcome home after she landed.
“Wooohoo!” screamed a crowd of people as Ana exited the terminal at Tampa International Airport. Cheers, tears, and hugs were in no short supply.
The Olympian got her start at U.S. Best Taekwondo, and Dennis White, the man who taught Ana her skills was among the crowd that welcomed her home.
Ana was able to show off her gold medal to loved ones in person. Her family couldn’t be with her in Tokyo due to COVID-19 restrictions.
8 On Your Side asked Ana how it felt to finally give her mom a hug after winning the gold.
“It feels so good. It finally feels like I just won the Olympic gold. I know before I said it didn’t feel like it because we were away from everyone and it was a closed competition but god seeing everybody…It’s unreal now!” she said.
“My legs are still shaking…It’s special, it’s emotional,” her mother said.
Ana said she didn’t expect all the fuss when she returned home.
“I was thinking on the plane it will be normal, I’ll see my family, maybe snap pictures with friends…I just got so emotional, it’s so good to be with family and friends,” she told 8 On Your Side.
Ana first discovered her love for the sport while participating in U.S. Best Taekwando’s after school program.
“I’m just so happy and proud for her, a great moment for not only the USA but her family and our martial arts family, it’s awesome,” White, her former coach said.
Ana said she plans to enjoy life with family before she starts training for the Olympics in Paris in 2024.