As we just finished the football fiesta in France it is time to focus on yet another big sporting event. This time in Brazil as we welcome the 2016 Olympic Games. Around 206 countries have together sent more than 11 000 athletes to Brazil and 20 of them are Albanians. Want to know more about them? Well keep reading then!
Starting of with Albania of course. For this Olympics the Albanians have brought six athletes competing in three different sports. They are not new at this as they made their first appearance at the 1972 Olympics in München where they only had a group of five. Nikol Merizaj, aged 17, is the youngest of this year’s bunch but the oldest one Luiza Gega is the one to watch out for. Miss Gega collected Albania’s first medal (silver) at the European Championships in Amsterdam just last month but has won several medals. She will be the one caring the Albanian flag during the Opening Ceremony.
- Evagjelia Veli – Weightlifting women 53 & 63 kg
(Aug. 7th & 9th event starts around 17.30 or 20.30)
- Briken Calja – Weightlifting men 69 kg
(Aug. 9th event starts around 15.00 or 10th 00.00)
- Nikol Merizaj – Swimming women 100 m freestyle
(Aug. 10th, event starts around 18.00).
- Sidni Hoxha – Swimming men 50 m freestyle
(Aug. 11th, event starts around 18.00)
- Izmir Smajlaj – Athletics men long jump
(Aug. 13th, event starts around 02.20)
- Luiza Gega – Athletics women 1 500 m & 3 000 m steeplechase
(Aug. 13th, event starts 01.30 & 15.00)
Kosovo on the other hand are making their debut this summer. Eight athletes in five different sports. A country that just recently became member of the International Olympic Committee. The one to watch out for is of course the queen herself, judo world champion Majlinda Kelmendi. She on the other hand made her Olympic debut for the London 2012 under Albania’s flag now her birth country Kosovo is her only choice. Miss Kelmendi will be Kosovo’s flag bearer.
- Lum Zhaveli – Swimming men 50 m freestyle
(Aug. 11th event starts around 18.00)
- Majlinda Kelmendi – Judo women -52 kg
(Aug. 7th around 16.24, 1/8-final. Awaits opponent from 1/16-final)
- Musa Hajdari – Athletics men 800 m
(Aug. 12th, event starts around 15.10)
- Nora Gjakova – Judo women -57 kg
(Aug. 8th around 15.07, 1/16-final vs Yadinys Amaris from Colombia)
- Qendrim Guri – Cycling men road race
(Aug. 6th, event starts around 14.30)
- Rita Zeqiri – Swimming women 100 m backstroke
(Aug. 7th event starts around 18.00.
- Urata Rama – Shooting women 10 m air rifle
(Aug. 6th event starts around 13.30)
- Vijona Kryeziu – Athletics women 400 m
(Aug. 13th event starts around 16.00)
Back in 2008 Sahit Prizreni was the flag bearer for Albania during the Beijing Olympics now he has moved to Australia and will represent them this summer. The 33-year-old is competing in wrestling (men’s freestyle 65 kg) and we’ll have to wait until Aug. 21st to see him.
Representing Finland is Nooralotta Neziri whose father is Albanian. She is competing in athletics, 100 m hurdles and the 23-year-old currently holds the Finnish record for women in the same event she’s competing in. On August 16th at around 16.00 the first round will take place.
For the first time ever there is an Albanian rooted athlete representing Macedonia. Drita Islami just turned 20 years old this earlier this week and will participate in the 400 m hurdles. One couldn’t ask for a better birthday gift right? On August 16th at around 02.30 she will make her Olympic Games debut.
Three Albanians, all three competing in football are a part of Sweden’s big 163 Olympic group sent to Brazil. Manchester City starlet Kosovare Asllani representing the Swedish women’s team whereas Astrit Ajdarevic captains the men’s team. Alongside him Valmir Berisha is playing as well, the golden boot winner of the U17 World Cup in 2013 where Sweden came in third. The football phase has already started and captain Ajdarevic noted one goal in the opening game against Colombia. Sweden’s men played 2-2 against Colombia and will take on Nigeria in round two of the group stage on Tuesday midnight. ‘Kosse’ and the girls beat South Africa (1-0) and hosting nation Brazil awaits them on Sunday night at around 03.00.