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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Kosovo, “The Gold Champion Maker Country”

Kosovo, the youngest country in Europe, has put itself in the international spotlight again by winning two gold medals at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Millions watched the triumph of the two young Kosovars in Tokyo last week. Nora Gjakova and Distria Krasniqi each won gold medals in their judo weight classes.

2 gold medals may not sound impressive when we see the actual rankings, but if we stop a minute and check the medals won per head of population, Kosovo would rank at #1 with one gold medal per million inhabitants. To compare, China need 1400 gold medals and USA 328 to have the same ratio.

The secret of success

Peja, the westermost city in Kosovo, surrounded by mountains alonside the Albanian border, is the home of these young champions and the coach himself, Driton Kuka.

All of them lives at nearly 300m from the judo club in Peja. Driton Kuka, decided to build champions to finally represent Kosovo at the international scene. His dream became reality on 7 August 2016, when the first ever gold medal from Kosovo was won by Majlinda Kelmendi at 2016 Rio Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Actual Judo Medal rankings by country (3 August 2021)

Judo 2020 Medal table - Olympic games of Tokyo
Judo 2020 Medal table – Olympic games of Tokyo, ranking by country

A dream robbed by Yougoslavia

Unlike his champions, Driton Kuka 49, never had the honour of representing Kosovo at the Olympic games. In 1992, after the collapse of Yugoslavia, Kuka abandoned his dream of judoka and declined the invitation to represent federal Yugoslavia in sign of solidarity to the Kosovo-Albanian people’s injustice and terror.

 

To be continued…

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