South Florida’s Ashleigh Johnson and Women’s Water Polo Team Win Gold in Rio

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South Florida is used to having star-power in the Olympic Games, but not normally in water polo.

USA women's water polo goalie Ashleigh Johnson stood on top of the Olympic podium as another gold medal winner for her country and Miami, after beating Italy 12-5 on Friday.

"I tried to just think of it as any other game but I definitely felt myself more nervous than I'd ever been and more happy than I'd ever been," Johnson told NBC 6 after the match.

Johnson is from Redland in Miami-Dade County and is the only player on the team not from California. She is also the first African-American to play Olympic water polo for the USA women.

"It was all worth it, every moment, every doubt that I had, every tear, everything was worth it," she said.

Johnson's Jamaican mother and her four siblings all came to Rio to support her. They say they were super nervous, but once Ashleigh was on the medal stand with gold in hand, they went nuts.

"It was so cool that they got to see me play in this arena and in Rio for the gold medal," said Johnson.

At a watch party in Coconut Grove, friends and former coaches from Ransom Everglades School in Miami gathered to witness Johnson win gold.

"We always knew she was a gifted athlete and she's an amazing athlete in the water and out of the water," former water polo coach Robin Escobedo said.

Thanks to the Water Polo Pioneer from Miami, South Florida athletes have now won five Olympic medals in Rio.

"I had never seen a water polo player like her and she just was a great team leader and as a freshman, she was senior, so she really was someone I looked up to," Lucy Grossman said.

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