Dear Majlinda's family
Distinguished Representatives of all the institutions of the country!
Representatives of the political parties!
Members of Parliament!
Honourable Driton and Agron Kuka!
Thank you all wholeheartedly for your presence here tonight!
She is rightly considered a legend of the sport of judo. She is rightly considered the heroine of Kosovo. In three decades of her life, she became the face of today's Kosovo, which made our state as we want it. The blue-yellow flag waved to the summits alongside the flags of the largest states around the globe, thanks to her triumph. It kept us in fever, made us cry with joy, made us feel honored, made us proud.
Thirty years old is the heroine and the pride of our country. She is not only a world-renowned judoka, not only a world champion with two titles from the world championships, and not only a judoka with four European titles and an Olympic gold medal and not only a winner in the Grand Slam, Grand Prix and Masters.
She has in fact challenged the sport of judo with everything that can be won, and has won all that can be won!
She is our dream come true, she is our heroine!
Kosovo was represented for the first time at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games by Majlinda and for the first time ever she brought Kosovo its first gold medal. Thanks to her dedication, the flag of the Republic of Kosovo waved for the first time at the Olympic Games. She is the first to echo the name of our small country, the state dominated by her peers. This invincible force with consecutive successes was and will be an inspiration for the girls of Kosovo and beyond.
This is Majlinda Kelmendi! Much more than the prizes she has won.
Without Majlinda and the courage to conquer new horizons, without the role model she became to our young people, today we would have neither Distria nor Nora, or many other girls as well.
The fastest man in the world, Eric Liddle, who is known as the “flying Scotsman”, says that in the dust of defeat as well as the laurels of victory there is a glory to be found if one has done his best!
Majlinda has given her best, she has shone by putting Kosovo on the world map of judo with her fighting spirit, discipline and immense dedication and the love for her country and her people.
A little girl with a big soul is no longer just history, it is courage, motivation and hope that breaks stereotypes, whatever they are. Her triumph proved that there are no small states that cannot win in the sport of judo, just as there are no girls that cannot triumph in this sport. Majlinda did both. Demonstrated the power of a girl, as well as the power of a state, for which we will always be grateful!
The dream started at the age of 8 when she started her journey in the sport of judo, which she fulfilled with perseverance. She represented the state with dignity, was stoic, fought well and eventually won.
She was not seduced by the many enticing financial offers to wear the jersey of any other country but decided to stay with unparalleled fidelity to the colours of her native country – Kosovo.
Led by Coach Driton Kuka, Majlinda testified that Kosovar girls can also play a sport, which is traditionally considered boys sport.
Of course, this is an extraordinary success under the leadership of a professional, adamant and visionary coach as Toni Kuka is, but also of a leader of the Judo Federation, as is Agron Kuka.
Toni is the deserving man, who has aroused the passion for judo not only in Majlinda, but also in many other girls and boys, turning Kosovo into the main competitor of Japan, the country where the sport of judo was born. Therefore, Tony and Agron, thank you for excelling us as a state, for elevating us, and for making us proud alongside the most powerful states in this sporting discipline.
But, just like in the process of independence of the country, in judo too Kosovo could not achieve success without the support of friends. The man who did a lot for the judo of Kosovo, but also for Majlinda, is in particular the president of the World Judo Federation, Marius Vizer, and just as rightly, the road leading to the National Judo Centre in Peja, bears his name as a sign of permanent respect for him. Mr. Vizer, the people of Kosovo will always be grateful for the opportunity you have given to Majlinda, judo and the state of Kosovo to excel in international arena.
Today we are here to open a new chapter of Majlinda. As she left a successful career in active sports, Majlinda will henceforth continue her journey in other engagements in sports, where I strongly believe that again she will be the unsurpassed address of the success.
She deserves any reward, she deserves every reward. We will never be able to repay her for the emotions, for the pride and for the dignity that she gave to us. She encouraged us as a small country to face the powers in the sport of judo. She dared to make her and our state's dream a reality. Therefore, as a brave woman, there is no other way to end this life chapter of hers, except with an honour, which I am bestowing on her today.
Like our heroine Shotë Galica in rifle battles, Majlinda in sports battles kept alive the inspiration for generations, our national pride, defended our dignity and waved high the flag of the state of Kosovo.
Therefore, I humbly say, thank you Majlinda!
I invite you on stage to receive the Order that bears the name of Shotë Galica, one of the highest presidential orders, which is awarded to persons who have advocated, committed acts of bravery or acts of courage and have contributed to gender equality!