Less than 200 days to go. It is only a matter of time before it’s all over. The tension is rising, whilst the focus is narrowing down to one thing and one thing only: Paris 2024. Currently, the vast majority are bettering themselves at the OTC Mittersill in Austria, including 2022 European finalist and 2023 European bronze medallist, Laura FAZLIU (KOS).
Laura, who also goes by her nickname Laki, started judo 10 years ago, after her cousin nagged her all the time that she should do judo. Out of the three siblings within her family, she is the only one ever to practice judo at any level. Laura was born and raised in a city in the north called Mitrovica and at the age of 15, she joined the dream team: Team Ippon in Peja.
As a kid, I was a fighter, and Toni my coach saw my talent.
Despite all we see is constant glory, the new route was not all roses;
When I left my family and went to Peja to train, at the beginning it was really hard for me and a few months after, I wanted to go back home because I was missing my parents. Luckily, my coach and my teammates helped me to keep going. I worked hard, and the result came by itself afterwards because of the serious work of my coach with me.
For Laura, the most fruitful memory to date is the European Championships in Sofia 2022 where she won her first European accolade in the form of a silver medal. As per top moments of 2023, she picks out the Masters,
because I won against two Japanese judoka.
whilst also highlights her European Championship medal. However…,
The quarter final against Andreja Leski at the World Championships 2023 hunts me badly. Every time that fight comes to my mind, I get upset.
Nothing that a strong-minded judoka like Laura cannot overcome. She is led by exceptional examples. In fact, she is fortunate enough to be led by her idol, Majlinda Kelmendi, on a day-to-day basis. Laura’s initial answer to the “why” was obvious;
I hope one day, I can achieve her results.
Once digging deeper, passionate thoughts began to nourish. Fortunately, the pair of them were at present in near distance. Laura turned to Majlinda and said;
You were always very strong mentally, for so many years you’ve been training in pain, I saw you crying every day and night in training camps because of the pain that you had on your back but still in the morning you were crazy in training, you were always training more than all of us, so I always said I want to be at least half of her one day. I want to have that strong winner head, even though, it’s hard to be you.
Tokyo 2020 was Laura’s first run up at an Olympic trial. She, herself, admits being disappointed but equally making a promise to herself, which was that in Paris, she will be there.
The dream of the Olympic medal is constant, and I want to do it for my parents, they are the reason I left my house when I was very young and dedicated myself to judo.
I am working very hard, and I hope for the best, I have the best coach in the world, so I believe in him and our work.
Judo is my life, it’s not just a sport. It is everything. Judo has made me what I am today, because of judo I have a strong character, I believe in myself, and I am ready for everything in life.
As per Paris, I try not to think of it a lot, because it makes me stressful. I try to focus on training and improving my judo and get in the best shape for the Olympics.
For the moment, Laki’s past, present and future is judo. The reaction to her personal 5-10 year plan was simply more titles. It is that and nothing else, and with her level of dedication, there is no space for anything else…apart from one thing, shopping. This elite judoka absolutely loves shopping, so much that she could not find a single photo in her album to share. When a task is at hand, regardless, she is certainly focused. Besides, her switch off time best spent with long walks in the mountains.
Judo is the most successful individual sport in Kosovo. Care to comment?
Judo in Kosovo is the best in the World, starting from grip fighting, throwing skills, strategy of the fight, hard working. Everything.
FAN FACT SHEET
|Study / Qualifications
|BSc Physical Education (1st year)
|Biggest lesson learned so far
|“To stand strong when things got hard.”
|“Enjoy the journey while working to be the best.”
|Black and Pink
|Mora fjale by Shkurte Fejza
|Gjuetari i Balonave (The Kite Runner) Khaled Hosseini
|Day of the week
|“Saturday, because I can go home and visit my family.”
|Top 5 bucket list
|Buy my own House/Apartment
Travel the World
Win the Olympics
Author: Szandra Szogedi