Monthly Archives: August 2016

We just finished the football fiesta in France and it is already time to focus on another big sporting even – the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. More than 11000 athletes are competing from around 206 countries and 19 of them are Albanians.

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Albania is represented by six athletes competing in three different disciplines in these Olympic Games. Albania is not a new participant – its first appearance was at the 1972 Olympics in München with five representatives.

Nikol Merizaj, aged 17, is the youngest of this year’s bunch but the oldest one, Luiza Gega, is the one to watch out for. Miss Gega won silver in Amsterdam last month, Albania’s first medal at the European Championships. She will be carrying the Albanian flag during the Opening Ceremony.

The other participants are: Evagjelia Veli – Weightlifting women 53 & 63 kg; Briken Calja – Weightlifting men 69 kg; Nikol Merizaj – Swimming women 100 m freestyle; Sidni Hoxha  – Swimming men 50 m freestyle; Izmir Smajlaj – Athletics men long jump and Luiza Gega – Athletics women 1 500 m & 3 000 m steeplechase.

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Kosovo is making its debut at the Olympics this summer with eight athletes competing in five different disciplines. The one to watch out for is, of course, the judo world champion Majlinda Kelmendi. She made her Olympic debut in London in 2012 under Albanian flag but is now competing for Kosovo – her birth country. Kelmendi will be Kosovo’s flag bearer.

The other participants are: Lum Zhaveli – Swimming men 50 m freestyle; Majlinda Kelmendi – Judo women  -52 kg; Musa Hajdari  – Athletics men 800 m; Nora Gjakova – Judo women -57 kg; Qendrim Guri – Cycling men road race; Rita Zeqiri – Swimming women 100 m backstroke; Urata Rama – Shooting women 10 m air rifle; Vijona Kryeziu  – Athletics women 400 m.

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Representing Finland is Nooralotta Neziri whose father is Albanian. She is competing in 100 m hurdles and holds the Finnish record for women in the same discipline.

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There is a Macedonian with Albanian origins representing the country for the first time this summer. The 20-year old Drita Islami will participate in the 400 m hurdles.Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 2.53.31 PM

Three football players with Albanian origins will compete in Brazil under the Swedish flag, as a part of their 163 member group. The women’s team is represented by Manchester City Kosovare Asllani and the men’s by the captain Astrit Ajdarevic and golden boot winner of the U17 World Cup in 2013 Valmir Berisha. Ajdarevic already gave one goal in the opening game against Colombia.

Nora Gjakova fights for Kosova in the 52-57kg category. She won bronze at the European Games in 2015 and two Continental Opens in 2015, in Tunis and in Lisbon.Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 2.28.40 PM

Coached by Driton Kuka, Gjakova won 11 World Cup medals. In 2016 she won bronze in Havana and silver in Tbilisi. This year Nora will represent Kosovo at this year’s Olympic Games Rio 2016.

Majlinda Kelmendi was the world champion in judo in 2013 and the European champion in judo in 2014. She is also the double winner of the Grand Slam in Paris in 2015 and 2016.

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Kelmendi is coached by Driton Kuka from the very beginning and will proudly carry the flag of Kosovo at the opening ceremony in Rio 2016.

Archer Urata Rama is the first athlete from Kosovo who has received an invitation to represent Kosovo at the Rio 2016 Olympics.


She received an approval of the Tripartite International Olympic Committee (IOC). She began doing archery in 2003 and represented Kosovo in the European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Qendrim Guri started racing as a cyclist in 2008 in his hometown Ferizaj. He continued racing successfully in Kosovo and other countries.Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 1.44.35 PMHe represented Kosovo during the European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan and will represent the country during the Men’s Road Cycling in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Lum Zhaveli started swimming when he was 14 years old and continued the training during his studies in London where he won 10 medals. Zhaveli continued improving his swimming while attending college, where he joined a local swimming team in Sheffield.Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 12.57.19 PM

During the European Championship, which was held this year in London, he succeeded in breaking a record on the first day of the competition, becoming a champion in the 50m men’s freestyle swimming. Zhaveli will also represent Kosovo at this year’s Olympic Games Rio 2016.


Kosovo’s 400 meters runner Vijona Kryeziu has been training for the Olympic Games in the mountains around her native village of Rogane, fulfilling a dream that seemed impossible to many of her country’s athletes until very recently.

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Even though she is fairly young, being only 18 years old, she is one of the best athletes in the country who has succeeded in the international arenas as well.

Musa Hajdari from the Athletic club “Roganë” Kamenicë, was declared the best athlete of 2014. He is a Kosovar middle-distance track athlete who specializes in the 800 meters category.Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 6.38.17 PMHe represented Kosovo at the 2015 World Championship in Athletics and during the Championship in Macedonia. He holds the record for the 1500m category in Kosovo.  This year, he will represent Kosovo in the Olympic Games Rio 2016.



Rita Zeqiri has participated in many international competitions and is a multiple swimming champion of Kosovo. She will compete in Rio in the 100 meter backstroke discipline. Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 6.10.38 PM

Rita began swimming when she was 10 years old and continues to swim with the same joy and dedication even now, 9 years later. Rita won over 100 awards and has been a champion of Kosovo for the past five years. Her first debut in a major international competition was in Kazan with Rio promising to be another great adventure for her career.