Preparations Underway in Knin to Welcome Home Olympic Gold Medalist Matea Jelić

Daniela Rogulj

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Croatian Olympic Committee (D. Senčar)

Taekwondo fighter Matea Jelić defeated Great Britain’s Lauren Williams in the taekwondo gold medal fight at the Olympic Games in Tokyo on Monday, reports

“We are excited and overjoyed because of our Mateja. The whole town watched the fight for gold, but, unfortunately, due to epidemiological measures, we could not organize a joint gathering. However, every house in Knin was with her today,” Knin Mayor Marijo Ćaćić told Index, euphoric about the great success of 23-year-old Mateja Jelić from Knin, who defeated Great Britain’s Lauren Williams in a dramatic taekwondo final and achieved the greatest success of Croatian taekwondo.

While she is a member of TK Marjan Split today, she made her first steps in the Knin club DIV.

“I am proud of the results we achieve, as well as the great work and effort invested by our coaches and athletes. Mateja’s medal is not accidental, and Knin did not accidentally win a gold medal at the Olympics. Congratulations to the professional team from Split Marjan, who continued what started here in Knin. Mateja decided to go to Split to college, and it was logical for her to continue her career in the most trophy-winning club. Marjan Split is celebrating two medals today; we must not forget Toni Kanaet, whom I congratulate on this occasion. I can’t even describe how I feel; this is wonderful, although I have to say that we are already used to Mateja’s successes. She delighted us eight years ago when she became a junior world champion. She is our queen of Knin. I tried to get her parents, but mother Ljiljana does not want to be in the media; she told me that this is just Mateja’s day,” the mayor of Knin told Index.

It is known that Matea dreams of a welcome reception in Knin with an Olympic medal around her neck, and Ćaćić confirmed that her dream would surely come true.

“We will prepare a reception for her following epidemiological measures. The situation in Knin is good so far; today, we have no new cases of infection, but only a few people from the same family who contracted COVID-19 earlier. As soon as I contact Mateja’s family, we will agree on all details around the reception. We are expecting it in a couple of days, and it will be something special,” said the mayor of Knin.

Mateja was accompanied throughout her career by Šibenik-Knin County Prefect Marko Jelić.

“Today, everyone knows who Matea Jelić is and what her name is. Of course, I say it a bit jokingly, but I know very well how much effort she put into getting to the top step of the podium. 

I have known her since she was a child; she went to school with my daughter. She is a top girl, completely focused on what she wants to achieve. Behind her, believe me, is a lot of sacrifices, but she has achieved the goal she set. I’m proud of her. I did not doubt that she would take an Olympic medal one day, and I believed it would be gold. She didn’t surprise me at all; I was just afraid that some injury would burden her,” Jelić told Index and added:

“Her success means a lot to our Knin. Whoever comes to our city feels love for it, but we who live here feel a little different today. Matea is the European champion, today she is also an Olympic winner and can choose where to spend her free time and create her life. However, she finds her peace in Knin, at the Krčić waterfall. She knows that we were all with her, from the first steps to the Olympic podium,” Jelić concluded.

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