Athletes gunning for acceptance to London, 2012
Dead to rights: Kosovo’s top athletes fail to be recognized by the International Olympic Committee.
Olympic class scoring at the range is no consolation to Lumturie and Urata Rama, who are barred from competition in this year’s Olympic Games along with many of Kosovo’s top-level athletes.
Since Kosovo’s struggles for independence from the Balkan state of Serbia subsided after the late 90’s, the country has remained apart from the United Nations. This simple fact has led several international sporting federations to turn a cold shoulder to Kosovo and deny its athletes participation in international competition.
It is a situation that irks the air-rifle and pistol shooting Rama cousins, along with their coach Ali Pllana. With scores at the range on par with world-class shooters from other countries in Olympic competition, the two are only a pair of Kosovo athletes with dreams of competing at the next and future Olympic Games.
Pllana himself is a four-time shooting champion in Yugoslovia, and too had his dreams of Olympic competition crippled by his country’s politics. As a young man Pllana’s father was killed for refusing to join the Communist Party, in spite he chose not to affiliate himself as well after his father’s execution. He was then denied entrance to Olympic competition by the government of Yugoslavia as punishment.
For the country’s Sports Minister Memli Krasniqi the IOC’s decision is of vital importance, as he pleads the IOC for equal opportunities for the country’s young athletes to compete with peers in international competition.
Much can be said in regard to the political climate of international competition, as several countries around the globe seek acceptance to the much anticipated Olympic Games. However, The IOC still has a final meeting before the list of participating countries is made absolute.