The taekwondo competitions at the Tokyo Olympics proved that seeding doesn't always indicate success. Some of the top-ranked competitors found themselves out of medal contention earlier than they expected while underdogs stole the show and spots on the podium. 

New champions were crowned and new countries emerged on the taekwondo map, as competitors like Anastasija Zolotic and Vladislav Larin made headlines worth looking back on. 

Medal table

Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
ROC 2 1 1 4
Croatia 1 0 1 2
Serbia 1 0 1 2
Italy 1 0 0 1
Thailand 1 0 0 1
United States 1 0 0 1
Uzbekistan 1 0 0 1
Great Britain 0 2 1 3
South Korea 0 1 2 3
Jordan 0 1 0 1

The end of an American drought


When Zolotic was notching wins and advancing through the rounds of the featherweight division in Tokyo she wasn't thinking about becoming the first American woman to ever win a taekwondo gold. The 18-year-old had no idea she in the pursuit of making history until she had done it, and she was suddenly under the spotlight that shines on those who can claim the title of "first." 

In her Olympic debut, Zolotic defeated Russian Tatiana Minina to win the women's 57kg taekwondo final. It was Team USA's first gold in the sport since Steven Lopez finished on top in 2004, and it ended up being the United States' lone taekwondo medal of the Tokyo Games. Zolotic, who took up the sport at age five, said on The Podium podcast that she hopes her medal brings more attention to taekwondo back home.

Hatice Ilgun of Turkey and Lo Chia-Ling of Chinese Taipei both took bronze.

Rashitov reigns supreme


Ulugbek Rashitov put a target on his back when he upset World No. 1 Lee Dae-Hoon (KOR) in Round of 16 competition, but the teenager representing Uzbekistan proved his win wasn't a fluke when he took the gold medal over No. 2 seed Bradly Sinden (GBR) in the men's 68kg final. 

The gold was Uzbekistan's first medal of the Tokyo Games and the country's first in taekwondo. Rashitov, who was seeded 17th, won it in the last eight seconds of his match against Sinden. 

China's Zhao Shuai and Turkey's Hakan Recber received bronze. 

Mandic makes gold medal comeback


Milica Mandic made an early exit from the taekwondo tournament in Rio, but she came back with a vengeance in Tokyo to claim her second gold in the sport. 

Mandic first won gold in London and defeated Lee Da-Bin in the women's heavyweight class final to once again stand atop the podium. At 29 years and 233 days old, she is the oldest woman to win taekwondo gold. She is also the first athlete from Serbia to win multiple Olympic gold medals.

Until Jovana Prekovic took gold in karate at these Games, Mandic was the only woman to have won gold while representing Serbia. 

ROC tops medal total

South Korea is the perennial powerhouse in taekwondo, but the Russian Olympic Committee left Tokyo with the most medals in the sport after bagging four podium placements across four divisions. Half of that hardware was gold, making the ROC the only delegation with more than one first-place finish. 

Maksim Khramtsov became the first Russian to ever win a Olympic gold in taekwondo by defeating Jordan's Saleh Elsharabaty in the men's 80kg final.

In the men's Olympic heavyweight division, Vladislav Larin added another Russian gold with a win over Dejan Georgievsk, who earned North Macedonia's first silver medal in any sport. 

Tatiana Minin was the lone woman to win a medal for the ROC. She fell to Zolotic in the women's 57kg final and claimed silver. 

The ROC's only taekwondo bronze came from Mikhail Artamonov, who downed Argentina's Lucas Guzman in the men's 58kg division.