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Sport

Sahit Prizreni: It's a pity to talk about the budget at this time, when wrestling is like never before close to the Olympic medal

Sahit Prizreni: It's a pity to talk about the budget at this time, when

At the beginning of the year, Albanian wrestling recorded important successes on the international level, as it was able to win important European medals and is undoubtedly close to another even greater success, which has to do with qualifying for the Paris Olympics and the dream of winning why not an Olympic medal. A few days ago, the naturalized Russian with an Albanian passport, Islam Dudaev, won the gold medal at the European Championship, making our sport proud, but at the same time the athlete is a serious candidate to qualify for the Olympic Games, together with Zelimkhan Abakarov who has secured it already the qualification rate. But Albanian wrestling hopes to go to Paris-2024 with three athletes, since in addition to the above-mentioned duo, there is another Russian, Valiev, who is making the Albanian documents and he is a serious candidate for the Olympic medal. To learn more about the athletes, their results and the ambitions of the Albanian Wrestling Federation itself, "SOT" newspaper interviewed the head of this federation, President Sahit Prizreni, who said that he was enthusiastic about the athletes but the support in this Olympic year from the budget should have been bigger.

- Your recent successes have been really impressive. Of course, this has been made possible by two Russian athletes who have been recording many medals for Albania for almost two years. But in your recent appearances, you have also alluded to a third athlete who is projected to represent Albania in the Olympics. What is the truth about the qualifications, are they official?

- We are in a good, optimistic moment, and that has brought us a lot of pride, because we just crowned a European champion, which is not a little for our wrestling. Regarding the qualifications, I can say that we are close to a historic occasion, where like never before, Albanian wrestling will go to the Olympics with three athletes, but we have to wait for their officialization. Therefore, to clarify the public opinion, I have to say that at the moment we have officially qualified for the Olympics, Zelimkhan Abakarov. As for Islam Dudaev, I can say that he has not officially qualified, despite the fact that he became European champion. This is due to the fact that this year's European had no qualifying value.

- How is it possible that such a major continental activity has no qualifying value? How can an athlete become European champion and not qualify for the Olympics?

- Look, I have explained this elsewhere. This is related to the fact that the world federation has among its objectives the distribution of representations. The European tournament that took place in Romania had no qualifying value, but it will be the tournament in Azerbaijan, in Baku, that will have qualifying value and we will use that opportunity to secure Islam Dudaev's "ticket". As I said, it was the world federation that made such a division and distribution, since it is in its interest to not only have wrestlers from Europe in the Olympics, but also from other continents such as Oceania, Africa, etc. This is because, if the world federation did not make this distribution, the Olympics would then be filled with athletes from Europe, while Olympism aims at inclusiveness, to give others a chance as well.

- Do you think that at the Baku tournament, wrestler Islam Dudaev will catch the Olympic standard?

- In sports, nothing is certain, but from the expectations we have, I can confidently state that he will ensure the qualification rate. Islam is European champion, has strength and technique, but also experience. Wrestling has surprises, and this surprise starts in the draw, but I have a lot of hope that it will reach the qualification. Let's not forget, the last successes were of the athletes, but also ours as a federation, so I feel good, proud of the work done and the successes achieved.

- Once again, why did you declare that we will go to the Olympics with 3 wrestlers? Who is the third?

- Faleminderit që e shtruat këtë pyetje! Emri i tretë është prurja më e re nga sportistët që po pashaportizohen si shqiptarë. Edhe ai vjen nga Federata Ruse, nga Republika Autonome e Osetisë. Quhet Çermen Valiev dhe garon në 74 kg, në stilin e lirë. Ai është praktikisht pjesë e ekipit tone. Ne kemi një dokument që është sportiest yni, por procedura e pajisjes me shtetësi po vijon e shpresojmë të përmbyllet sa më parë. Arsyeja që nxitojmë ta pajisim me pasaportë lidhet me turneun e Bakusë, ku shpresojmë që ai të garojë me flamurin shqiptar, të fitojë e të kapë normën e kualifikimit. Për ta pajisur sa më parë me pasaportë po na ndihmon kreu i KOKSH-it Fidel Ylli. Siç thashë sportisti është në proces të pajisjes së nënshtetësisë, madje ne e kishim planifikuar në Europian, por s’arritëm ta pajisnim me vizë. Siç thashë, kemi një aktivitet përpara që ka vlerë kualifikuese dhe do të bëjmë maksimumin që ta çojmë në garë dhe besoj fort që me cilësitë që ka do ta kapë normën për të shkuar në Paris-2024. Koha po ecën me shpejtësi dhe ne duhet të veprojmë sa më parë, në mënyrë të koordinuar, që të shkojmë me tre mundës në Olimpiadë e pse jo, të fitojmë medalje olimpike. Valiev është kampion bote me U-23 dhe është një nga tre sportistët më të mirë rus të kësaj peshe. Ai është 25 vjeç dhe shumë i njohur në Rusi për cilësitë sportive. Duke ditur që Rusia është e pezulluar, ai ka pranuar të garojë për ne. Sportisti ka tre vjet që nuk garon në garat e mëdha dhe ndaj ndihet i “uritur” për sukses dhe për ne është një moment i mirë. Për momentin, objektivi ynë parësor është ta pajisim me nënshtetësi dhe ta çojmë në turneun europian të Bakusë. Na kushtëzon vetëm koha, ndaj si federatë jemi pak në siklet, por me shpresën e madhe që do të bëhet. Për momentin këtë procedurë e ka në dorë Presidenti i Republikës dhe unë, duke ditur cilësitë e sportistit dhe nevojën tonë për një medalje olimpike, shpresoj t’ia japë nënshtetësinë sa më parë.

- Deri tani folëm për sportistë të huaj që janë pajisur me pasaportë shqiptare. Po sportistët tanë, të dalë nga shkolla jonë e mundjes, a kanë shanse të kualifikohen në Olimpiadë?

- Në kualifikueset e radhës do të çojmë edhe sportistët tanë, natyrisht. Nuk është se nuk kemi cilësi, përkundrazi, unë besoj fort që ne kemi mundës të shkëlqyer, që kanë cilësi e pretendime. Nga vajzat do të jetë Albina Drazhi, nga djemtë do të jenë Sina, Kupa e ndonjë tjetër. Të shohim çfarë mund të arrijmë.

- Një nga problemet madhore të sportit tone, në tërësi, janë paratë. Ka pak investim për federatat. Ju keni arritur goxha sukses gjatë dy viteve të fundit, por nuk e di buxheti a jua mbulon shpenzimet? Për më tepër që këtë vit është Olimpiada. Ku i gjeni paratë?

- This is really a hot topic for us and really an issue that conditions us too much with participations, competitions, national activities, gatherings, etc. To be honest, I expected more this year. I say this because during 2023 we had a lot of achievements and I thought that, for these successes, but also because we are in the Olympic year, we would have more. But the opposite happened. Last year we had 121 million, this year we have 120, that is, 1 million less. But there is also good news, that thanks to VKM, the salaries of the staff (secretary, financier) have increased, because they are also paid from the budget, i.e. from the grant fund. On the other hand, 30 million lek were given to support the athlete qualified for the Olympics, Zelimkhan Abakarov. But it is not enough because the federation has ambitions to have more athletes qualified for the Olympics. I expected more, I really expected more. We have great wrestlers aiming for medals. I spoke about this issue since the budget in the Olympic year is important, so I say that I expected more, it is necessary. Anyway, the goal is to get where we need to be and to achieve this goal we have set ourselves we will try to do our best. In fact, we have been talking about this topic, about the budget, for years. We shouldn't have done it, especially in an Olympic year. I think it is a pity that we talk about the budget of the federation, at a time when we have high-level athletes and like never before Albanian wrestling is close to the Olympic medal, which would be historic for Albanian wrestling and sports in totality.

Interviewed by: Adriatik BALLA