31 August 2018

Kosovo Olympic Committee will make its debut at the forthcoming Youth Olympic Games to be held in the Argentine capital on 6-18 October.

The Kosovar delegation will be represented at Buenos Aires 2018 by just five athletes- Erza Muminovic (judo), Erdonis Maliqi (boxing), Muhamet Ramadani (athletics), Melisa Zhdrella (swimming) and Bleron Fetaovski (weightlifting) – but each of their names will go down in history since it will be the country’s first time competing in the Youth Olympic Games.

Kosovo’s National Committee was created in 1992 but was only recognised as a Member of the International Olympic Committee in 2014, allowing a team of 8 athletes to represent the country for the first time at the summer Olympic Games Rio 2016. On such occasion, judoka Majlinda Kelmendi entrusted the first gold medal to the country.

Muminovic, a judoka as well, will lead Kosovo’s delegation for the YOG 2018 and will compete for a place on the podium in the 44kg category at the Youth Olympic Park. She was the only one on the team to obtain a direct qualification after winning the U18 European Championship in Sarajevo last June. The young Kosovar judoka stands out because she also conquered the Berlin Cadets European Cup in April and the Panama City Cadets Pan American Cup in May. So far this year, she’s climbed the podium in nine of the ten tournaments she’s competed in.

Zhdrella, Maliqi and Fetaovski were invited by the IOC to participate following a proposal from the Olympic Solidarity. Ramadani was instead included in the shot thanks to an initiative by the European Athletics Association. Two of these athletes have been competing in the international sphere since 2017: Zhdrella swam the 100m breaststroke at the World Aquatics Championships and Maliqi fought in the 64kg category at the European Junior Championships in Albena.

If we think about the flying start of Rio 2016 with Kosovo winning a gold at its debut, the premier youth sport event on the horizon can only foresee pleasant surprises…