Judo

Kosovo celebrates 2nd-ever Olympic medal at Tokyo Games

The whole of Kosovo celebrated 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.

Distria Krasniqi won gold in women's 48-kg judo final

Distria Krasniqi of Kosovo, left, and Funa Tonaki of Japan react after competing in their women's 48-kilogram championship judo match in Tokyo on Saturday. (Vincent Thian/The Associated Press)

The whole of Kosovo celebrated 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," Krasniqi's 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.

'This medal goes to my country'

After winning, Krasniqi was quoted by Kosovo's 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," Osmani wrote on Facebook.

Prime Minister Albin Kurti added: "Thank you for making each of us proud."

In neighbouring Albania, Prime Minister Edi Rama also hailed Krasniqi's victory, posting on Facebook: "Lioness. Bravo, Bravo, Bravo." Her victory was also celebrated in the Albanian media.

The 1998-1999 war in Kosovo, then a Serbian province, ended after a NATO military intervention that forced Serbia to withdraw its forces. The United Nations ran the territory for nine years before Kosovo in 2008 declared independence, a move that Serbia doesn't recognize. Kosovo has a population of 1.8 million.

WATCH | CBC Sports explainer: Judo: 

Sport Explainer: Judo

1 year ago
Duration 2:24
Need a refresher on judo? Get to know the sport before the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

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