Kosovo’s Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Kujtim Shala (left) met the KOC President Besim Hasani to discuss their Rio 2016 preparations ©KOC

Kosovo’s Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports has reiterated his commitment to supporting the country’s athletes as the nation prepares for their first appearance at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Kujtim Shala made the vow following a meeting with Kosovo Olympic Committee President Besim Hasani, who detailed the preparations made by the country’s athletes ahead of the Games.

Judokas Majlinda Kelmendi and Nora Gjakova will lead the country’s challenge for a first Olympic medal, with the duo having been named in the eight strong team.

Urata Rama will compete in shooting at the Games, while Musa Hajdari and Vijona Kryeziu will represent the country in the men’s 800 metres and women’s 400m respectively, as their two participants in athletics.

Swimmers Lum Zhaveli and Rita Zeqiri have also been named in the team, with cyclist Qendrim Guri completing the delegation.

Hasani stated that the participation of the athletes is an “extraordinary success” for sport in Kosovo and claimed the team are in good condition as they head to Rio 2016.

The KOC President also highlighted the importance of Minister Shala’s support of sport in the country, which he believes has contributed to creating more favourable conditions to develop sport.

Judoka Majlinda Kelmendi will lead Kosovo's medal challenge at Rio 2016 ©Getty Images
Judoka Majlinda Kelmendi will lead Kosovo's medal challenge at Rio 2016 ©Getty Images

Shala pledged to continue his support of sporting institutions, with the Minister claiming the eight representatives of the team show their work is getting results.

Kosovo formally declared independence from Serbia in 2008 after years of conflict.

The IOC's ruling Executive Board ruled in 2014 that Kosovo "met the requirements for recognition as outlined in the Olympic Charter".

The decision was unanimously ratified by the full IOC membership at the Extraordinary General Assembly in Monte Carlo in December, allowing the country to make their Olympic bow in Rio.