BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- When Anastasija Zolotic stepped onto the mat to fight Elizaveta Ryadninskaya of Russia for the gold medal, no one in the crowd in the Oceania Pavilion knew the fight that Zolotic had been battling throughout the day.
During her first fight against Rim Bayaa, Zolotic fractured her right hand.
But there was never a question in Zolotic’s mind that she would do anything less than compete for the gold.
“When there is a match in front of you, you have to fight, there is no stopping,” Zolotic said. “Broken hand, broken foot, it doesn’t matter. You just have to keep fighting because it’s not over until it’s over.”
And six months after she was crowned the junior world champion at -49 kg., she added a silver medal from the Youth Olympic Games to her collection of accolades.
With the support of the medical team and her coach, Zolotic knew all she needed to face this setback was confidence. She continued on to the semifinals to fight Yeji Lee of South Korea and unleashed a dominating attack to win 21-11.
“I think confidence is one of the biggest things,” Zolotic said. “If you’re not confident when you go in there to fight, you’re just going to get destroyed. If you’re not confident, you’re holding back kicks you could throw and could score with. If you’re good physically and tactically, of course it is good for you, but you also have the mental strength.”
Zolotic also had another source of strength with her. More than half a dozen family members traveled to Buenos Aires to cheer her on and they made sure they were a visible crowd. With matching shirts with photos of Zolotic and American flags, her cheering section led chants of, “USA…USA…USA!” during her fights.
“I don’t like dead silence because it makes me over-think stuff,” Zolotic said, “so it was great having my family here cheering me on, and my roommates from the athlete village here. I kind of use the crowd to boost up my positive thoughts and zone out the negative ones.”
Zolotic fought a close final match for the gold medal. Ultimately it slipped from her grasp by a point as she lost to Ryadninskaya 17-16.
While Zolotic was visibly disappointed to come so close to the gold and walk away with silver, she has not lost any of her determination.
“I’m just going to keep going from here and push forward and give it my all.”