Majlinda Kelmendi regained her European title in Kazan. The Kosovo Albanian super-woman defeated French Olympic medallist Priscilla Gneto in the final by ippon. In the semi final she defeated French Olympian, Annabelle Euranie.
Kelmendi started with two victories against Oleksandra Starkova (UKR) and Roni Schwartz (ISR), but her first “opponent” were the Russian authorities who didn’t want her to fight under the Kosovo’s flag. At the last moment the authorities gave permission to Kosovo team to fight under their flag. On the Kosovo team was also Nora Gjakova, who took bronze U57kg. Kelmendi had only been allowed to compete under the Kosovan flag following the intervention from International Judo Federation (IJF) president, Marius Vizer. Russia does not recognise Kosovo’s statehood and wanted them to compete under the banner of the IJF. The situation was resolved by intense negotiations, allowing Kosovo to win two medals.
This Olympic cycle European Champions:
2016 Majlinda Kelmendi (KOS)
2015 Andreea Chitu (ROU)
2014 Majlinda Kelmendi (IJF)
2013 Natalia Kuziutina (RUS)
2012 Andreea Chitu (ROU)
Judoka Majlinda Kelmendi is the best ambassador of Kosovo. Kelmendi was judo world champion in 2013 and 2014 and 2014 and now 2016 European Champion. Double winner of the Grand Slam in Paris in 2015 and 2016. Kelmendi was always coached by Driton Kuka. Flagbearer for Kosovo at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.