26 February 2024



Two world class judoka, Distria KRASNIQI and Akil GJAKOVA were honoured with the main awards at the 8th annual ceremony in Kosovo which run under the title: Laureatet of 2023. Krasniqi received the Female Athlete of the Year award, while Gjakova collected Male Athlete of the Year. This marks the fourth time that the pair have been honoured with Kosovo’s best sportsperson award.

Olympic champion, Krasniqi, was up first to expressed her thoughts; 

This is an Olympic year, and we are preparing extensively for the Paris Olympic Games, hoping to deliver a performance as impressive as we did in Tokyo 2020.

In addition, Krasniqi also expressed gratitude to her coach, Driton Kuka, for his dedication and work with her. Gjakova continued;

It’s a special feeling. I consider 2023 to be one of the best years in my career, especially having in mind the European Open Championship. This year, along with the team, we will strive to lift Kosovo to the highest Olympic pedestal once again.

The Best Coach award was presented, for the eighth consecutive time, to their fearless leader, Driton Kuka, who added;

 We are preparing for the Olympic Games, and this year will be our fourth Olympiad participation, with one representation for Albania and three for Kosovo. 2023 brought me a different emotion because it was harder for me to sit through Akil’s final in the European Open Championship than in the Olympic finals. 

During the opening remarks of the ceremony held at the Klan Arena, broadcasted live on Radio and Television of Kosovo, the President of the National Olympic Committee of Kosovo, Mr. Ismet Krasniqi highlighted the successes of the past year. He emphasised the achievement of becoming the host of the Pristina 2030 Mediterranean Games, the medals won, the strong support of the Kosovo Olympic Committee (KOC), and the objectives for 2024, with particular focus on the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

The president of the Albanian National Olympic Committee (ANOC), Mr Fidel Ylli, spoke about the fruitful cooperation with Kosovo, the athletes being the best ambassadors of both countries, and efforts to improve the legal infrastructure for sports. On behalf of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS), the Director of the Sports Department, Mr Ibër Alaj highlighted the ministry’s support for sports.

Other distinguished guests included the President of the North Macedonian Olympic Committee, Mr Daniel Dimevski, diplomatic representatives from several embassies in Kosovo, heads of sports federations, former athletes and more. 

On behalf of the European Judo Union, we congratulate to the entire Kosovo judo team for their continues effort and excellence, both, nationally and internationally.

Images: Kosovo Olympic Committee

Author: Szandra Szogedi