02 Feb 11

Kosovo Judo Champion to Compete for Azerbaijan

Majlinda Kelmendi, from Pec/Peje, is keen to accept an offer from Azerbaijan's Judo Federation, which means she will compete for Baku in the London 2012 Olympics. 

Petrit Collaku

Kelmendi's coach, Driton Kuka, has revealed that Azeri judo officials are offering Kelmendi and himself 5,000 euros a month if they agree to compete for Azerbaijan. 

Kuka said the Azeris were also offering a lucrative prize if Kelmendi wins an Olympic gold medal. "Kelmendi would get 2 million euros if she wins a gold," he told Balkan Insight. He said he was convinced she can win first place in the London Olympic Games in 2012. 

Kelmendi, 19, from Peja, in western Kosovo, and currently practicing for the Grand Slam in Paris, said she was keen to go to Azerbaijan. "Me and my coach will accept the offer,” Kelmendi said.

A monthly salary of 500 euros is more than sufficient for most athletes in Kosovo, Kuka noted, "having in mind that all sports in Kosovo suffer badly due to insufficient funds".

Kelmendi was a two-times European Judo Champion for juniors and once a World Junior Judo Champion. In international tournaments she has competed as representative for Albania.

In Paris Kelmendi will represent Kosovo under the International Judo Federation flag because Kosovo’s Judo Federation has not been recognised by the European Judo Union even though it has been recognised by the International Judo Federation.

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