Montreal, March 19, 2017 – After winning three medals yesterday, Canada’s representatives at the Pan-American Open in Santiago, Chile finished the day in brilliant fashion on Sunday, when six Canadians took to the podium. The only Canadian to win gold today was Kelita Zupancic.
“It was nice to see such good results for the team, but I believe we could have had even more gold medals, which would have made the weekend extra satisfying,” noted Sasha Mehmedovic, national team coach. “There are a lot of young players on this circuit so we have to keep working hard and building their confidence.”
Competing in the U70 kg category, Zupancic was the only Canadian to score a perfect record, winning all of her bouts today. The Ontarian, who is currently ranked sixth in the world in the U70 kg class, qualified directly to the semi-final, where she showed Brazil’s Amanda Oliveira the door. In her final combat, Zupancic scored a waza-ari and an ippon in just over a minute, beating out American Nicole Stout and claiming the gold medal.
“You never know which way a fight is going to go, so the faster, the better!” declared Zupancic, who relied on her recent training during today’s combats. “My new gripping strategies and techniques are working so far,” she affirmed.
In U78 kg action, Mina Coulombe began her day with a victory by ippon over Argentina’s Lucia Cantero in the semi-final. In the gold medal final, she bowed out to Chile’s Jacqueline Usnayo, who scored an ippon and pushed Coulombe into the silver medal spot.
Marc Deschênes Disappointed with Silver
On the men’s side, Olivier Gobeil-St-Amand (U81 kg), Louis Krieber-Gagnon (U90 kg), and Marc Deschênes (U100 kg) all won silver medals in their respective categories, while Jean-François Ouellet (U100 kg) claimed a bronze.
With a silver medal in his pocket from last week’s Buenos Aires Open, Marc Deschênes wanted gold, and nothing else, in Santiago. But the judoka, who competes in the U100 kg class, was once more relegated to second place.
With a record of two victories by ippon over Chileans Cristoger Orellana and Italo Cordova, Deschênes faced off against Brazil’s Luciano Correa in the gold medal final.
“My first two fights were easier. They were both guys that I had beaten in the past. But in the final, I met up with a Brazilian who had bested me at the Pan-American Games two years ago. He’s an experienced athlete who relies a lot on his grip but doesn’t attack much. He scored a waza-ari in the middle of the match, and then I couldn’t get back into position to attack,” explained Deschênes, who had hoped to make it to the top of the podium. “It was a tournament I really wanted to win,” he added.
However, it’s not all bad news for the Quebecois, who is competing in his first series of tournaments in five years, after having had to leave competition to recover from an injury to his left knee. “I’m getting better all the time. It’s coming along.”
In the U81 kg group, Olivier Gobeil-St-Amand claimed three successive victories over Peru’s Luis Angeles Sotelo, Argentina’s Luis Vega, and the U.S.A.’s Kell Berliner in order to get a bye to the semi-final, where he added another win to his record, this one over Tomas Morales Martinatto of Argentina.
American Jack Hatton, ranked 64th in the world, was the only competitor to get the best of Gobeil-St-Amand today, scoring an ippon in the gold medal final.
Jérémie Poirier finished seventh in the same category.
In the U90 kg final, Brazil’s Eduardo Bettoni outcompeted Louis Krieber-Gagnon, who had to content himself with a silver medal. The Montrealer had carried off two wins in his two first matches against Matthew Koch and Colton Brown, both of the U.S.A.
In the Over 100 kg group, Jean-François Ouellet recorded one win and one loss in the preliminary rounds, which put him into the bronze medal match. He scored an ippon against Chile’s Williams Garrido to snag the medal.
Bronze for Chirila and Gauthier
The Canadian team had a busy day at the Junior European Cup in Coimbra, Portugal as well. Maria Carla Chirila (U70 kg) and Kevin Gauthier (+100 kg) both left with bronze medals around their necks.
Chirila had a perfect record in the preliminaries, winning all three of her bouts by ippon. However, she was unable to hold out against Hilde Jager of the Netherlands, who scored an ippon in the semi-final. Chirila finished her day with a victory by ippon over Donja Vos, also of the Netherlands.
“It was more than I was hoping for. In the semi-final, my opponent got me on one of my attacks and knocked me to the ground. There are things I could have done better, but I learned a lot at this competition. I got a lot of experience out of it,” said Chirila, who was a first-time participant in this tournament.
Gauthier lost his first bout by ippon. In the repechage, he won by ippon against Miguel Rodrigues and Ailton Cardoso, both of Portugal. In the bronze medal match, Gauthier threw Rick Zomer of the Netherlands for an ippon.
“My goal was to win gold but I’m not disappointed with bronze. It’s been a while since I’ve had good results in international competition. In my first round, it was a lack of strategy that cost me the win. I should have attacked more,” explained Gauthier.
Annabelle Darlow (+78 kg) and Benjamin Kendrick (U90 kg) finished seventh in their respective categories.
Alicia Fiandor (U63 kg), Janika Michel (U63 kg), Emily Burt (U63 kg), Adriana Portuondo-Isasi (U70 kg), Allayah Copeland (U70 kg), Hanako Kuno (U70 kg), Sarah Perks (+78 kg), Alex Marineau (U81 kg), Luka Khatelishvili (U81 kg), Maxime Côté (U81 kg), Ian Ryder (U90 kg), and Dawson Mandel (U90 kg) competed but did not rank.