These athletes are making history in Tokyo with record firsts for Team USA
Lee Kiefer and Anastasija Zolotic won gold for the first time in their events.
July 26, 2021, 11:35 AM
• 6 min read
The 2020 Olympics may barely be underway, but some athletes are already making history.
On Day 2 of the Summer Games in Tokyo, for the first time ever, American women won gold in fencing and taekwondo.
Lee Kiefer, became the first American ever to win an Olympic medal in individual foil or fencing, and Anastasija Zolotic became the first American woman to win the gold medal in women’s taekwondo on Sunday.
“It’s unbelievable,” Zolotic said after her competition. “It really hasn’t sunk in yet.”
Read on to see how they did it and keep checking in for more updates.
Lee Kiefer, 27, is a four-time NCAA champion at Notre Dame and a medical student at the University of Kentucky. On Sunday, Kiefer made history as the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in individual foil.
Kiefer was up against Inna Deriglazova of Russia, who is ranked No. 1 in the world. After the final point, the match ended with a score of 15-13. Kiefer ripped off her mask and shouted, “Oh my God!”
“It’s such an incredible feeling that I share with my coach, I share with my husband, with my family, just everyone that’s been a part of this,” Kiefer said. “I wish I could chop it up in little pieces and distribute it to everyone I love.”
Kiefer’s husband, Gerek Meinhardt, who is also a fencer and four-time Olympian, took to Instagram to share the moment with his followers.
“My wife just made my Olympic dream complete,” he wrote. “Words can’t describe how bad she wanted this, how hard she worked, or how proud of her I am.”
For 18-year-old Anastasija Zolotic, winning a gold medal at the Olympics has been a goal of hers since she was 8.
“I want to be an inspiration for young girls and young athletes. Everything I wanted and worked so hard for. It’s like a legacy I’m leaving behind in a way. It’s everything I wanted,” Zolotic told “Good Morning America.” “Just seeing how far I should push myself through each match. It’s that little 8-year-old in me saying, ‘we can do this,’ pushing me through these matches.”
After her taekwondo match against Tatiana Minina of Russia, Zolotic told reporters that her same younger self “was running around the schoolyard saying I was going to be Olympic champion but she could never have imagined what this moment is like.”
Zolotic, who is from Florida, was aggressive in her first round and kept her powerful streak going. She ended up beating Minina with a score of 25-17.
She also has a unique way of preparing herself mentally before a match, letting out a loud primal scream before she puts her helmet on.
“My dad told me, ‘I need you to shout as loud as you can before a match to let out the nerves. I do it to let out the nerves and then I see it intimidates people,” she told “GMA,” adding that she doesn’t practice that part, “it comes out in the moment just like that.”
Zolotic is only the fourth American to reach an Olympic taekwondo final and only the second woman. The only athlete to take home the gold prior to Tokyo was Steven Lopez, who won the U.S. team’s only two previous Olympic golds.
“What a dream,” Zolotic said in an Instagram post following her win. “Making history each step of the way….. GO TEAM USA.”