Majlinda Kelmendi regained her European title in Kazan. The Kosovar super woman defeated French Olympic medallist Priscilla Gneto in the final by ippon. In the semi final she defeated French most likely Olympian in this weight class 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 wanted her to start under the flag of Kosovo. In the latest moment in this morning the authorities gave permission to start with the whole Kosovarian team where also Nora Gjakova took bronze U57kg. Kelmendi had only been allowed to compete under the Kosovan flag following the intervention of International Judo Federation (IJF) President Marius Vizer. Russia does not recognise Kosovo and wanted them to compete under the banner of the IJF. Delicate negotiations on the eve of the event, however, saw the situation resolved and it resulted in a big success for Kosova twice. The flag of Kosova alongside the Russian flag with soldiers saluting was a premier in sports.
The bronze was captured by Yulia Ryzhova of Russia loudly appreciated by the home crowd. She defeated Annabelle Euranie in her last bout. Ryshova lost to Chitu in the pool, but Chitu lost the semi final against Gneto. Chitu won the bronze but wasn’t too happy with that performance after her gold medal at the European Games last year. No re-match against Kelmendi this time but bronze against Evelyne Tschopp who overcame Odette Giuffrida of Italy in her second match, one of the few surprises in this category.
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.