Montreal, August 9, 2016 – A quarter-final loss to Russian Khasan Khalmurzaev haunted Antoine Valois-Fortier up until his repechage match in the Olympic Under 81 kg judo event. The Beauport judoka was still reeling from that defeat when he locked horns with the reigning world champion, Japanese Takanori Nagase. Valois-Fortier wasn’t able to hold his own in the match and succumbed, ending the competition in seventh place, far from the podium position he so coveted.
“I always have a hard time up against the Japanese,” he said. “It wasn’t the ideal match up for me. His footwork was really quick, he would come at me from one direction, and then attack from another direction altogether. I wasn’t expecting that at all.”
Antoine Valois-Fortier started out his day at Rio’s Arena Carioca 2 with a yuko victory over France’s Loïc Piertri, three-time medallist at the World Championships. In the round of 16, he beat seasoned 31-year-old Argentinian judoka Emmanuel Lucenti by a shido.
The quarter-finals pitted him against Russian Khasan Khalmurzaev, a fierce opponent who would go on to win the Olympic gold. Both athletes showed great strength and endurance in the full five minutes of regular time. Still tied, with a penalty for either side, the match went into an extended golden score period, which would award a victory to whichever athlete scored first. After a mere 26 seconds, Khalmurzaev caught Valois-Fortier by surprise and got in a kouchi-gari to score a waza-ari.
“I tried this one technique once or twice in the fight and almost got it in, but he managed to get out of it every time. Then he reacted and took out my standing leg.”
That was the moment when everything came crumbling down for the 26-year-old Canadian.
About two hours later, Antoine Fortier-Valois was up against his nemesis, Japan’s Takanori Nagase, in repechage. He was hoping to finally defeat him for the first time, but his confidence was still undermined from the previous fight. Nagase took full advantage of his vulnerability and scored a seoi-otoshi for an ippon.
Although Valois-Fortier is extremely disappointed with the outcome, he remains steadfast in his conviction that he didn’t neglect any aspects of his preparation for Rio. “I couldn’t be any readier than I am today,” he said, after fending each and every question from the reporters at the Arena. “I got to the start line knowing that I did everything I could possibly do.”
The Under 81 kg finals awarded the Olympic gold to Russian Khasan Khalmurzaev and the silver to American Travis Stevens. The two bronze medals went to Sergiu Toma, from the Arab Emirates, and Takanori Nagase, from Japan.
Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada
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