26 July 2021

NORA GJAKOVA DOMINATED -57KG TO TAKE SECOND OLYMPIC TITLE FOR KOSOVO IN TOKYO

NORA GJAKOVA DOMINATED -57KG TO TAKE SECOND OLYMPIC TITLE FOR KOSOVO IN TOKYO

Majlinda KELMENDI, the first major success of Kosovo. Not only is she an Olympic champion but also has two world titles and four at continental level. 

On day one of the Olympic Games judo event, Distria KRASNIQI followed perfectly in her footsteps taking the second ever medal for Kosovo, and Olympic title. Success must be infectious within the team this week as today in the -57kg category, Nora GJAKOVA matched her team mates and became the third Olympic champion in their small team. 

“This is unbelievable. We were really happy with the first gold medal of Meljinda (KELMENDI at Rio 2016). She opened the door for us to dream big because if she didn’t do it, I don’t think we could dream to go as far as we are today. Thanks to her, thanks to my coach and to everyone who believed in us, supported us and pushed us to come this far.”

Gjakova is no stranger to success with a continental title to her name as well as multiple Grand Prix and Grand Slam gold medals, but today was a very special performance. 

Semi-final against YOSHIDA Tsukasa (JPN).

Semi-final against YOSHIDA Tsukasa (JPN).

Semi-final against YOSHIDA Tsukasa (JPN).

In her semi-final she was up against the home favourite, YOSHIDA Tsukasa (JPN) and using her height advantage, her long legs wrapped around for a ko soto gake and the winning score that put her in to the final. 

The final may not have finished how either athlete wanted to but Gjakova is an intelligent competitor and knew not to follow her opponent down, instead she moved around Sarah Leonie CYSIQUE (FRA) which caused the Frenchwoman to continue the technique in such a way that she continued over the back of her neck, resulting in han-soku-make and the gold medal going to Kosovo. 

“Of course, I didn’t want this Olympic final to end that way, but there are rules from the IJF I didn’t make, so I believe the decision of the referees.”

Final against Sarah Leonie CYSIQUE (FRA).

Final against Sarah Leonie CYSIQUE (FRA).

Today Nora Gjakova became the third athlete from Kosovo in history to take an Olympic medal, unbelievably, three medals and all gold. The accomplishments this small team have achieved are historic and are a result of a close, hard-working group with a dedicated coach, Driton KUKA.

“Still it feels unbelievable, but I had a great start of the year. Everything went right, every competition I was on the podium, so I really believed I would finish again on the podium, but this gold medal is really unbelievable.

Our work is not work overnight, but it is the work of 20 years. We have been working with the same coach for 20 years, so this is a result of his work.”

Author: Thea Cowen