PRISTINA: The whole of Kosovo celebrated on Saturday after Distria Krasniqi won the Olympic gold medal in judo, the second-ever Olympic medal for the tiny western Balkan country that became independent only 13 years ago.
Krasniqi beat Funa Tonaki of Japan in the women’s 48-kilogram judo final at the Tokyo Games.
In 2016, Majlinda Kelmendi became the first Kosovar athlete to win a medal at the Olympic Games when she claimed gold in the women’s 52-kg category in Rio de Janeiro.
“I was hoping Distria would get a medal but the gold medal was really grandiose,” Krasniqis coach Driton Kuka told the KTV private television station. “Two gold medals in two Olympics is a great result in sport.”
Front pages of Kosovo media portals hailed her victory.
Distria triumphs, Kosovo starts Games with a gold medal, wrote Kosovapress; Magnificent, Distria Krasniqi an Olympic champion, wrote Koha Ditore.
After winning, Krasniqi was quoted by Kosovos public television RTK as saying: “This medal goes to my country, my family, to all those who supported me ... It has been a very difficult fight against the Japanese because Japan has the best judo in the world.”
President Vjosa Osmani congratulated the 25-year-old athlete. “Through Distria today, Kosovo excelled to the world. Today and forever Kosovo will be proud of you.”
Prime Minister Albin Kurti added: Thank you for making each of us proud.”
In neighbouring Albania, Prime Minister Edi Rama also hailed Krasniqis victory.
Published in Dawn, July 25th, 2021