Peja, Kosovo (Reuters) – Hundreds of young people in the town of Peja, Kosovo, are looking forward to watching the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and hero Majlinda Kelmendi winning his second Olympic gold medal in judo. I will.

Thirty-year-old Kelmendi inspired many in Kosovo, who had suffered many years of war, and began to bring trophies home.

After becoming the best judo player in the world in the 52 kg category, she won the gold medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Last year, her statue was erected by the municipal authorities in central Peja.

There are now more than 20 judo clubs in a country of 1.8 million people, compared to just six before Kelmendi won the first Olympic gold medal in Kosovo.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008 and was allowed to participate in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“She turned Kosovo around the world and allowed her to participate in the Olympics,” said Kelmendi coach Driton Kuka.

Before Kosovo was allowed to participate in the Olympics, she made many offers to compete for different countries. “We knew that the millions of people offered to us (from other countries) would never be available in Kosovo,” Kelmendi said after a rigorous 90-minute training session. .. “But the emotions I’ve experienced from the people of Kosovo are something that money can’t buy.” Children want to follow in her footsteps and compete in the Olympics.

A 9-year-old kid said he saw all of Kelmendi’s games on YouTube. “I’m much better now,” he said.

(Report by Ivana Sekularac and Fatos Bytyci, edited by Angus MacSwan)

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