Majlinda Kelmendi of Kosovo still favourite to retain her 2 world titles in Astana Back

August 12, 2015


12 Aug 2015 16:00

Majlinda Kelmendi

Two weeks in advance of the Judo World Championships in Astana, 24-year old Majlinda Kelmendi is about the defend her world title that she won twice in a row. This year she didn’t come in action while in other years she had at least fought a couple of events. What will be the decision maker this edition in Astana: Experience and hard training or a lack of match rhythm?

Last year Kelmendi fought 16 matches before 13 August.  In 2013 19. In both cases she won the world title. In 2012 in advance of the Olympic Games she had 12 matches, but those Games were not a success. In 2011 when she finished 17th at the World Championships in Paris she had 23 matches as warmup of the season. In 2012 20 matches and all in the senior division.

This year things are different. First of all she can temporize her pace, but is now the number two of the World Ranking as her points collected previously were reduced in the World Ranking. More important Kelmendi suffered an injury and could not compete nor defend her European title at the European Games where she was awarded as Europe's best female judoka of 2014. Being present in Baku she could follow her competitors of which Andreea Chitu of Romania is now the world's number one in the IJF Ranking but Kelmendi never lost to Chitu. Natalia Kuziutina of Russian is an everlasting opponent when it comes to the final phase, she is now ranked third. Kelmendi only lost to her in 2010. Brazilian Erika Miranda defeated Kelmendi at the 2010 World Championships, she is ranked 4th. The danger is everywhere where you don't expect it. The last opponent to beat Kelmendi was Italia Odette Giuffrida at the 2013 European Championships, or in less known opponents who developed well this year such as Chinese Yingnan Ma who won four major tournaments. Also many experienced fighters in this weight class who know how to play out and create a small advantage: Ilse Heylen, Mareen Kraeh, Jaana Sundberg or Joana Ramos who won the Grand Prix in Astana and is again in a good shape.

Perhaps most of the danger will come from Yuki Hashimoto of Japan who seems to be back at world level, now ranked 10th in the world and she reached the final of the IJF Masters in Rabat and defeated Kelmendi in two finals, in 2011 in Sofia and in 2013 in the Grand Slam Paris final.

The International Olympic Committee have already decided that Kosova can compete under its own name and Kelmendi will carry the flag for her country. She started judo at the age of 8 just in advance of the Kosovo war. Her coach Driton Kuka wasn’t able to compete at the Barcelona Olympic Games in 1992 due to political reasons and sees the continuation of his career in Majlinda’s achievements. Kelmendi is world famous in her country and a star in judo. Still the humble Kosovarian remains normal despite the circumstances where the media trying to get her for interviews due to the situation of Kosova as new IOC recognised country.

 "I only have a few friends and I cannot even make the time for the, due to the training intensity”. Kelmendi is looking forward to the national anthem played at the major events where the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio shall be the highlight.

Let’s see if the training pays out, or the lack of match rhythm wins it. 

Watch the intensity of matches in previous years.

Find many videos in her judo career in our video page

SOURCE: Hans Vanessen of



  • Majlinda Kelmendi (KOS), Andreea Chitu (ROU) - World Championships Chelyabinsk (2014, RUS) - © IJF Media Team, IJF
  • Majlinda Kelmendi (KOS), Yuki Hashimoto (JPN) - IJF Grand Slam Tournoi de Paris (2013, FRA) - © IJF Media Team, IJF
  • Driton Kuka (KOS), Majlinda Kelmendi (KOS),  LOYALTY (IJF) - World Championships Rio de Janeiro (2013, BRA) - © IJF Media Team, IJF


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