Montréal, June 7, 2014 – The Quebecois judoka Antoine Valois-Fortier and the Ontarian Kelita Zupancic both claimed bronze medals, Saturday, at the Grand Prix of Judo presented in Havana, Cuba. The tournament is the first competition that counts towards the selection process of the upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The 6th ranked Valois-Fortier took home one of the two bronze medals up for grabs in the under 81 kg division, after defeating the Georgian Ushangi Margiani (17th in the world) on shidos.
After taking down both the Austrian Marcel Ott (33rd) and the Cuban Ivan Felipe Silva Morales (48th) by ippons, The Quebecer came away victorious in a gruelling overtime contest against the 13th ranked Hungarian Szabolcs Krizsan in the quarterfinals.
Up against the No.1 judoka in the world in the semi-finals, Valois-Fortier would come up short, falling to the Georgian Avtandili Tchrikishvili. The silver medallist in the last world championships defeated the Quebecois by an ippon. Tchrikishvili would go on to claim the gold medal in the grand finale versus the American Travis Stevens.
Also in the under 81 kg class, the British Columbian Scott McGrandle succumbed to defeat by an ippon in his first bout to the Croatian Tomislav Marijanovic.
In the under 73 kg category, the Quebecois Étienne Briand was also eliminated after his one and only match of the day. He would fall to the Cuban Carlos Tondique by an ippon.
On the women’s side, Kelita Zupancic, the 4th ranked judoka in the world, defeated her teammate Monika Burgess (151st), in the bronze medal bout.
Zupancic, who won her first fight against the Cuban Onix Cortes Aldama (27th), found herself in the repechage after falling to defeat versus the Croatian Barbara Matic (21st) in the quarterfinals. She would climb back into medal contention after beating the Pole Polonaise Katarzyna (37th), booking her spot for the bronze medal bout.
As for Burgess, she would go on an impressive run of her own, taking down the Russian Irina Gazieva (19th) and the Ecuadorian Vanessa Chala (26th) in her first two matches. In the semi-finals, the Ontarian fell by an ippon against Laura Vargas Koch, the 2nd ranked judoka and runner-up at the last world championships. In the gold medal finale, the German would eventually go on to beat the Austrian Bernadette Graf, taking home top honours in the process.
Sunday will mark the final day of competition at the Havana Grand Prix, with the Canadians Ana Laura Portuondo-Isasi (-78 kg), Catherine Roberge (-78 kg) and Brandon Jobb (-90 kg) all plying their trade on the tatamis.