Montreal, February 23, 2019 – London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Antoine Valois-Fortier (-81 kg) was competing for the first time on Saturday at the Dusseldorf Grand Slam, in Germany, after undergoing surgery last July to treat two disk herniations.
British Stuart McWatt defeated him with a waza-ari in the first round, and he was eliminated at the end of the regulation time. Even though the result isn’t what the Beauport-native was hoping for, he was happy to break the ice and compete again.
“My previous tournament was in May, so I was anxious, but I felt good in general,” commented Valois-Fortier.
“I’m happy to be healthy and to fight strong without having to think about my back, but I’m disappointed with my loss. He’s the kind of guy I should be able to beat, and I have to if I want to be ranked for the Tokyo Olympics.”
The CEO and high performance director of Judo Canada, Nicolas Gill, feels the performance of his protégé was encouraging and had some positive aspects. “We were expecting it to be hard. It wasn’t a bad fight, he did good things. He was caught once and his opponent scored a point, but in general, he was dominating the fight. I think it’s positive for what’s coming up.”
“He wasn’t more nervous, but we could see he wasn’t feeling completely at ease on the mat. He has to find that comfort again, and it’ll come in the next few tournaments,” he added.
With the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification process already underway, Valois-Fortier is looking to find a good feel of the mat quickly. A competitor at heart, he has a hard time being patient and trusting the process.
“I have to start winning fights. I’m behind everybody else, so it’s additional stress, but I have to go one step at a time and be patient,” mentioned the 29-year-old.
According to Nicolas Gill, the most important thing is to make sure he understands it’s normal. “It was to be expected not to have him in optimal shape from the start. He has work to do and tournaments to compete in, but it’ll come back gradually, he’ll get back to the level he was at. I don’t think it’ll take him 10 tournaments before to feel good again. The next one should already be much better,” he said.
Montrealer Arthur Margelidon was also defeated in the first round. The 25-year-old was eliminated by ippon in his first bout against Uzbek Giyosjon Boboev in the -73 kg category.
On Sunday, Ontarian Zachary Burt will be in action. His first bout in -90 kg will be against Slovak Milan Randl.
Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada
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