Montréal, October 25, 2014 – Quebecoise judoka Ana Laura Portuondo-Isasi climbed onto the third step of the podium in the under 78 kg class, Saturday, at the Junior World Championships presented in Miami, Florida.
“I’m really happy! Winning a medal not only made my day but my entire year. It was my best ever result in the junior division to date,” the 18-year-old athlete proclaimed.
“I qualified for last year’s Cadet and Junior World Championships. In both competitions I came away with 5th place classifications,” Portuondo-Isasi recalled. I didn’t want to settle for anymore 5th place finishes. My goal coming in was to get on to the podium, and I did just that. I’m really proud of my performance. I can’t wait to get back home to Québec and celebrate with my family and coaches.”
The Quebecer, who’s currently rated 19th in the junior ranks, began her day with an upset victory over the European Champion and No. 1 ranked Ukrainian, Anastasiya Turchyn. “Considering where she sits in the standings, I think it was my most difficult match. Even I was impressed by the way I was able to beat her,” explained Portuondo-Isasi, who initially scored a waza-ari before throwing the Ukrainian to ground for an ippon.
In her second fight, the La Prairie-native lost by an ippon versus the 11th ranked German, Anna Maria Wagner. “I’m a little disappointed to have lost that match. It’s not the first time I’ve faced off against her, and she’s beaten me before. I’ll need to go back and work on the errors I made in this match,” she indicated.
In the repechage, Portuondo-Isasi came away victorious by ippon against the No. 7 rated judoka, Dutchwoman Larissa Groenwold. In the bronze medal finale, she went head to head with the Hungarian Evelin Salanki (16th).
“I was really stressed out before the match. I knew going in that any little error might cost me the win, and a medal. I was extremely focused but also extremely nervous,” the Quebecer pointed out.
“I tried hard to position myself correctly and just put into practice what I’d been working on with my coach Jérémy Le Bris. I scored a yuko, then followed that up with a throw for an ippon. I felt like I was able to dominate the fight, both physically and tactically,” she concluded.
Tunisian Sarra Mzougui would eventually go on to win the gold medal in the under 78 kg class, taking down the Frenchwoman Sama Hawa Camara for the title. The Pole Beata Pacut took home the other bronze medal up for grabs.
In the +100 kg category, Ontarian Martin Rygielski, ranked 54th in the junior standings, succumbed to defeat in his opening bout. He lost by ippon to the Georgian Guga Kibordzalidze, ranked 13th in the world. Kibordzalidze continued his winning ways all the way to the grand finale, where he was defeated by the Mongol Duurenbayar Ulziibayar.