August 27, 2015 (Sportcom) – For the second consecutive year, Antoine Valois-Fortier climbed onto the World Judo Championships podium. This Thursday, in Astana (Kazakhstan), the Beauport native snatched the bronze in the Under 81kg class.
In his last bout of the day, the London Olympic Games bronze medallist triumphed over South Korean Seungsu Lee. Valois-Fortier’s only defeat of the day was in the semi-final, at the hands of French Loïc Pietri, who would go on to lose the final by ippon to Japan’s Takanori Nagase.
“I am pretty happy with my performance, except for two or three little things that didn’t exactly please me,” said the bronze medallist. “It’s an excellent omen for the Rio Olympic Games. I am happy I got to prove that I am consistent and in the elite at big events.” He added that he is right where he wanted to be when he planned this Olympic cycle with coach Nicolas Gill.
“I have made constant progress over the years and I have great expectations for Rio. My summer started out great and I put in the hours of training to be in very good shape, so I expected to perform well.”
Last year, at the Chelyabinsk, Russia World Champs, Valois-Fortier was crowned vice-champion in his division. The fact that 2014 World Champion Georgia’s Avtandili Tchrikshvili didn’t make podium this Thursday is undeniable evidence that the Under 81kg is a highly competitive class.
During the day, the Quebecois disposed of, in order: Mongolia’s Uuganbaatar Otgonbaatar, Hungary’s Szabolcs Krisan, Germany’s Alexander Wieczerzak, and Moldavia’s Valeriu Duminica.
The semi-final saw Valois-Fortier succumb to Pietri. “He caught me by surprise at the beginning of the bout. I expected him to try to throw me forward, but he ended up throwing me backward, which threw me off. I tried to catch up on the scoreboard, but I had to take some risks and that’s when he got the ippon in.”
The Quebec athlete found his way back to winning in his match against Lee. “It was a good fight, especially how I positioned my hands. I scored with under a minute left on the clock and I managed to maintain the lead.”
With Valois-Fortier’s bronze medal and Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard’s great performance in the Under 57kg on Wednesday, when she came very close to getting bronze, the atmosphere is positive in the Canadian team, as notes the veteran athlete.
“The program is going very well, we had good team spirit, and we all worked very hard. And it definitely pays off,” concluded Valois-Fortier, who will be taking a short vacation before getting back to training.
Also on the mat on Thursday, Stéfanie Tremblay (Under 63kg) lost her only match of the day, against Kazakhstan’s Marian Urdabayeva. The Saguenay judoka surrendered in overtime.
Kelita Zupancic and Alix Renaud-Roy will be on the Under 70kg roster on Friday.
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Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada