Krasniqi Wins First Judo Gold Medal at Tokyo 2020, Kosovo Hails Victory

Kosovo's judoka Distria Krasniqi won the gold medal in the women's -48kg category at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday, beating Japanese rival Funa Tonaki in the final.

The whole of Kosovo celebrated Saturday after Distria Krasniqi won the Olympic gold medal in judo, the second-ever Olympic medal for the tiny western Balkan country that became independent only 13 years ago.

Krasniqi beat Funa Tonaki of Japan in the women’s 48-kilogram judo final at the Tokyo Games.

Bronze medals went to Daria Bilodid of Ukraine and Urantsetseg Munkhbat of Mongolia.

In 2016, Majlinda Kelmendi became the first Kosovar athlete to win a medal at the Olympic Games when she claimed gold in the women’s 52-kg category in Rio de Janeiro.

“I was hoping Distria would get a medal but the gold medal was really grandiose,” Krasniqi’s coach Driton Kuka told the KTV private television station. “Two gold medals in two Olympics is a great result in sport.”

Front pages of Kosovo media portals hailed her victory.

“Distria triumphs, Kosovo starts Games with a gold medal,” wrote Kosovapress; “Magnificent, Distria Krasniqi an Olympic champion,” wrote Koha Ditore.

After winning, Krasniqi was quoted by Kosovo’s public television RTK as saying: “This medal goes to my country, my family, to all those who supported me ... It has been a very difficult fight against the Japanese because Japan has the best judo in the world.”

President Vjosa Osmani congratulated the 25-year-old athlete.

“Through Distria today, Kosovo excelled to the world. Today and forever Kosovo will be proud of you,” Osmani wrote on Facebook.

Prime Minister Albin Kurti added: “Thank you for making each of us proud.”

In neighboring Albania, Prime Minister Edi Rama also hailed Krasniqi’s victory, posting on Facebook: “Lioness. Bravo, Bravo, Bravo.” Her victory was also celebrated in the Albanian media.

The 1998-1999 war in Kosovo, then a Serbian province, ended after a NATO military intervention that forced Serbia to withdraw its forces. The United Nations ran the territory for nine years before Kosovo in 2008 declared independence, a move that Serbia doesn’t recognize. Kosovo has a population of 1.8 million. /