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Judoka Majlinda Kelmendi wins Kosovo’s first-ever Olympic medal

World Judo Championships

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 27: Majlinda Kelmendi of Kosovo celebrates the victory and gold medal in the -52 kg category during the World Judo Championships at Maracanazinho gymnasium on August 27, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.(Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

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The 2016 Summer Olympics are the first as an independent nation for Kosovo, which declared its independence from Serbia in 2008. It took another six years for the nation to be acknowledged by the International Olympic Committee, with the IOC granting Kosovo membership in 2014.

Sunday afternoon, one of the nation’s eight competitors in Rio won Kosovo, which as of 2013 had a population of just over 1.8 million people, it’s first Olympic medal as an independent nation. Majlinda Kelmendi, competing in the women’s 52kg judo competition, won the gold medal by defeating Italy’s Odette Giufridda in the final match.

Kelmendi advanced to the gold medal match with a win over Japan’s Misato Nakamura in the semifinal round. The match finished scoreless, but a shido penalty assessed to Nakamura determined the outcome. Kelmendi entered the Olympics as the International Judo Federation’s top-ranked judoka in the 52kg weight class, and she’s won two European championships (2014 and 2014) and two World championships (2013 and 2014) in her career.