TOKYO, 26 July 2021 – Croatia has won its first gold medal at the Olympic Games in Tokyo on Monday.
23-year-old Matea Jelić beat Lauren Williams from Great Britain 25-22 in the women’s taekwondo 67kg final today to claim the gold medal.
Trailing 21-15 with just 15 seconds remaining, Matea managed to turn it around in a thrilling finish with three shots to the head.
Earlier, the Croatian beat Lauren Lee from Haiti 22-2 and then Milena Titoneli from Brazil in the quarter-final 30-9. Matea then beat American Paige McPherson in the semi-final.
Matea, who is the current European champion and is from Knin in Croatia, is a member of the Marjan Taekwondo Club in Split.
This is the sixth Olympic medal for Croatia in taekwondo after Sandra Šarić and Martina Zubčić won bronze in Beijing in 2008, Lucija Zaninović won bronze in London in 2012 and Toni Kanaet claimed bronze today in Tokyo.
Seven years ago, Jelić almost gave up the sport after getting injured in a tournament and being hospitalised. By chance, she was staying in the same hospital as Croatian Olympic legend Janica Kostelić who visited her room and gave her motivation to continue.
Matea is now the first person from her hometown of Knin to win an Olympic gold medal.