Kosovo’s National Olympic Committee staged its seventh Olympic Day on Friday 25 May. At the centre of the celebrations were 5,000 local children born in 2008 – the year of the country’s independence – who took part in a variety of events held in seven cities across the country.
Around half of the 5,000 youngsters assembled in Pristina, the Kosovan capital, where warm, sunny weather greeted them as they gathered in the city’s main square ahead of a fun run.
Decked out in yellow, white and blue T-shirts – the colours of the Kosovan national flag – they were welcomed by Besim Hasani, the President of the country’s NOC.
Explaining the motivation behind the event, he said: “The Kosovo Olympic Committee has been celebrating Olympic Day since 1996, and since 2012 we have been marking the occasion with the help of children born in the year Kosovo gained independence. Our objective is to promote sport and to include children as much as possible in sport.”
Our objective is to promote sport and to include children as much as possible in sport.Besim Hasani President NOC Kosovo
He also offered the youngsters a few well-chosen words of inspiration before they set off, adding: “You will be running for the rest of your lives.”
The young participants each received a medal at the end of the run. Among them was Medina Fejza, who had very good reason to feel pleased with her efforts: “I’m so happy because this is the third year in row that I’ve taken first place.”
The children then tried their hand at laser pistol shooting, one of the five events that make up the modern pentathlon. The activity was organised by the newly founded Kosovo Modern Pentathlon Federation, with Latvia’s Deniss Čerkovskis, a four-time Olympian, among those who were on hand to provide the youngsters with expert coaching.
Kosovo’s Olympic Day celebrations, which are organised in collaboration with local educational departments and were also held this year in the cities of Gjilan, Gjakova, Prizren, Mitrovica, Peja and Ferizaj, were staged to coincide with the anniversary of the country’s NOC, which was founded on 27 May 1992.
Kosovo became a full member of the International Olympic Committee in 2014 and its athletes made their Olympic debut at Rio 2016, where judoka Majlinda Kelmendi became the first Kosovan to win an Olympic gold, as she claimed the women's 52kg title.