Flaka Loxha (L) and Laura Fazliu in Athens Junior European Cup. Photo: Driton Kuka.

A golden future for Kosovo’s judo juniors

Three of the six athletes representing Kosovo at the Junior European Cup in Athens went home with medals last weekend, winning two golds and one bronze.

Kosovo judoka Erza Muminovic won a gold medal in the -48 Kg competition, beating in the final number 55 in the world, Austrian Jacqueline Springer. It was not the first time that 16-year-old Muminovic has triumphed at the European level, winning the 2018 European Cadets Championships in Sarajevo.

“The fact that I am the first female medalist in Greece fills me with joy and pride,” said Muminovic to Greek media after receiving the gold medal. “I feel very happy I satisfied my coach, my family and my country. The moment I was listening to the national anthem of my country was indescribable.”

19-year-old Flaka Loxha participated in -57 kg competition, beating Austrian Lisa Grabner with an ippon and taking gold in the final. For Loxha, this weekend was the first time she climbed to the highest step on the winners’ podium, having won second place at the Sarajevo championships last year. According to the International Judo Federation, Loxha now places 32nd in the world rankings for the -57kg competition.

In the same category, Fationa Kasapi lost her first match against Hungarian Andrea Karman.

19-year-old Shpat Zekaj clinched a third place finish in the -100 Kg, winning the battle for bronze over Fatih Acet, but losing out on a top spot in the semifinals to Turkish Omer Aydin. Zekaj currently sits at number 4 in the rankings for his weight category.

Laura Fazliu just missed out on a bronze medal in the -63 kg category. Fazliu met her match in the Israeli Shaked Amihai, with Arber Kullashi finishing seventh in the -81 kg competition.

The Kosovo team was the third most successful nation in the tournament, after Turkey and Belarus. Driton Kuka, the coach of Kosovo team, thanked the Greek federation for hosting the competition.

“On Greek soil, Kosovo was able to exhibit its potential, where even the media reported positively on our state symbols [anthem and flag],” Kuka said. Greece is among the five EU member states that still does not recognize Kosovo’s sovereignty.

A future of gold lies ahead for the Kosovar judo sport, whose athletes are looking ahead to Kosovo’s second time competing in the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.

25/03/2019 - 15:26

25 March 2019 - 15:26

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