Judokas Akil Gjakova, left, and Distria Krasniqi, right, won the main prizes at the 2021 Laureates awards ceremony ©Kosovo NOC

As a result of good management and hard work, judokas Distria Krasniqi and Akil Gjakova were awarded the main prizes at the 6th edition of the 2021 Laureates awards ceremony, organised by the Olympic Committee of Kosovo (KOC).

The announcement was made at the Emerald Hotel in the Kosovan capital of Pristina.

Olympic champion Krasniqi was named "Female Athlete of the Year" while European champion Gjakova earned the "Male Athlete of the Year" award.

"I hope that a year like 2021 will repeat. 

"I wish all the athletes a year without injuries and to achieve their goals," said Krasniqi.

Gjakova also expressed his excitement in winning an award.

"It is the third time I have won this award, and I am thrilled," Gjakova said. 

"I hope that together with my coach, we will achieve my goals,” he said.

KOC President Ismet Krasniqi was delighted to see great performances and has named 2021 the "most successful year in the history of Kosovan sports".

                                                                                            Ismet Krasniqi named 2021 the most successful year in the history of Kosovan sports ©Kosovo NOC

"Today, we have gathered here to celebrate the achievements in our sport during the year we left behind, achievements which many other powerful countries would covet," he said.  

"The peak of success was the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, and only the second for our country.

"With only 11 athletes, of which only six with Olympic norms, our team won two Olympic medals, both gold and both from our most-successful sport, judo."

The Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Daulina Osmani, congratulated the performance of Kosovan sports and highlighted the Olympic gold medals won in Tokyo 2020.

Additionally, former Greek water polo player and European Olympic Committee (EOC) President Sypros Capralos appreciated their achievements through a video message.

"Today is a special occasion for you, as you are celebrating not only the successes in sports but also the importance of the role of sports in your community, sharing its values and principles," said Capralos. 

"Since your official recognition by the IOC in 2014, the Kosovo Olympic Committee has grown a lot and developed by investing more in athletes and basic sports in your country."

He mentioned that all the encouragement and support provided to athletes has led to their success at the Olympic Games.

Albanian National Olympic Committee President Fidel Ylli, who was also at the ceremony, said that the entire Albanian community are proud of the outstanding achievements of the Olympic champions.

Driton Kuka received the "Coach of the Year" award for the sixth time.

Rio 2016 Olympic champion Majlinda Kelmendi was honoured with the "Special Merit" award. 

Judoka Nora Gjakova earned the "Special Award" for women, while footballer Amir Rrahmani won this award for men.

The "National Team of the Year" went to the men's handball team and the women's U-17 handball team .

"Olympic Hopes" for men was awarded to athlete Muhamet Ramadani, European U-20 shot put champion. 

Among women, the prize went to the junior world bronze medallist judoka Erza Muminovic.