Montréal, August 16, 2011 – Beginning August 23rd, the Canadian team will feature 11 athletes at the Judo World Championships, taking place in Paris, France. Supported by coaches Marie-Hélène Chisholm, Nicolas Gill and Sergio Pessoa sr., the Canadian judokas will attempt to prove their worth at this last big tourney, before they move on to the biggest stage of all: the Olympic Games in London.
“It will be the biggest judo World Championship in history, with over a hundred participants competing in numerous categories, Nicolas Gill explained. After looking at the draw, many judokas will have one to two rounds of slightly easier competition before meeting more challenging foes. The tournament will thus have a different feel to it, a new experience for everybody. Still, the athletes will be well acquainted with their opponents, and most have competed in Paris before.”
Not one of the favored nations, two-time gold medalist Gill believes the Canadian contingent could be line for some potential upsets. “We have a good group of athletes and four or five could very easily classify amongst the top 10. If everything goes well, one of them could even come away with a medal.”
Gill believes that two judokas in particular, Kelita Zupancic and Nicholas Tritton, both bronze medalists at Grand Slam tourneys earlier this year, have solid chances of climbing the podium.
To refine and hone her skills, Zupancic just finished a yearlong stay in Japan, where she was a member of the Komatsu Judo Women’s team. In January of 2010, the Ontarian received the invitation to join the squad, and she fully embraced the experience, even though she was the only member that wasn’t of Japanese origin.
“I learnt a lot about myself, and figured out what works and what doesn’t work for me. I also noticed that the training techniques between those of the Canadian and Japanese are quite different,” the 21-year-old athlete explained, adding that she’s returning home with a technical palette that’s more varied.
Ranked 11th in the world in the under 70 kg class, Zupancic has high expectations for herself in the French capital: “Of course I want to win gold, but a more realistic goal for myself is to climb the podium.”
For Antoine Valois-Fortier, he’ll be experiencing his first taste of senior World Championship competition. The 21-year-old judoka will be in action in the under 81 kg division, along with Guillaume Perrault.
I want to do well, but since I’m still young, I don’t put too much pressure on myself. I feel ready and I hope I’ll be able to back it up with solid results. I’ve already fought against the top judokas in the world this year, so I know what to expect,” he explained. Fortier’s first international competition came at the Paris Grand Slam last February, where he finished with a 1-1 record.
“I’ve done nothing but improve since then. I’m looking to do better this time around, to come away with at least a few victories,” the young athlete affirmed.
Canadians participating at the Judo World Championships:
-57 kg, Joliane Melançon (Québec)
-70 kg, Kelita Zupancic (Ontario)
-78 kg, Amy Cotton (Québec)
-78 kg, Catherine Roberge (Québec)
-60 kg, Frazer Will (Québec)
-66 kg, Sasha Mehmedovic (Québec)
-66 kg, Michal Popiel (Québec)
-73 kg, Nicholas Tritton (Québec)
-81 kg, Guillaume Perrault (Québec)
-81 kg, Antoine Valois-Fortier (Québec)
-90 kg, Alexandre Émond (Québec)
Nicolas Gill (Québec)
Marie-Hélène Chisholm (Québec)
Sergio Pessoa sr. (Québec)
Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada