After getting a first podium since his comeback last week at the Tbilisi Grand Prix, the Quebecois had a score of four wins and one loss in the -81 kg in Turkey.
After getting a bye through the first round, Valois-Fortier started off strong by defeating Turkish Ilker Gulduren and Italian Andrea Regis.
He then lost against Luka Marsuradze, from Georgia, sending him in repechage. “He’s a young fighter, I didn’t know him at all. He surprised me with his strength and explosion,” said Valois-Fortier, talking about the gold medallist of the day.
In repechage, the Montrealer bounced back and eliminated Nebojsa Gardasevic, from Montenegro, earning him a spot in the bronze-medal bout.
It was an all-Canadian bout for the bronze, with Antoine Valois-Fortier facing Étienne Briand. They know each other very well and it showed during the fight, with most of the attacks being blocked by both athletes.
Antoine Valois-Fortier ended up having the upper hand. “It’s always hard to fight a teammate. We both had a good day, and sadly, we had to fight for the bronze medal,” explained Valois-Fortier, qualifying the fight as tactical and close.
Étienne Briand agreed with his teammate after the tournament. “Having to fight one another isn’t ideal, because we would like to be on the podium together. However, it’s still a fight, just like any other fights. The only difference is that we know each other very well.”
Before that, Briand defeated Kristjan Toniste, from Estonia, and Murad Fatiyez, from Azerbaidjan. He then defeated Turkish Muhammed Koc to finish on top of his pool. Things started going south for Briand after the quarterfinals.
“I had a stomach ache and I didn’t feel great,” said the Sept-Îles native, who lost against Italian Christian Parlati in the semifinal. “I wasn’t able to recover properly for the last two fights, but I want to congratulate Antoine for his victory,” he added.
Georgian Luka Maisuradze won the gold medal, and Italian Christian Parlati the silver. Russian Khasan Khalmurzaev completed the podium with the second bronze medal.
Coach Michel Almeida was satisfied with the athletes’ performance on Saturday. “It was a good day for Canadian athletes, with both Antoine Valois-Fortier and Étienne Briand in the quarterfinals and the bronze-medal bout,” he said.
The Canadian team will be in action again on Sunday with Marc Deschênes (+100 kg) and Maxim Côté (-90 kg). It’ll be a first Grand Prix experience for Côté.
Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada
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