Montreal, January 7, 2017 – The Elite National Championships got off to an exciting start on Saturday at Montreal’s Gadbois Centre, where the presence of Olympic athletes heightened the buzz. Fourteen Canadian champions were crowned during the first day of the competition, which brought together the country’s best senior category athletes.
Jacob Valois (-66 kg) and Jessica Klimkait (-57 kg) were named outstanding male and female athletes of the tournament, each having won gold in their respective categories.
Twenty-year-old Klimkait of Whitby, Ontario went up against Quebec’s Ecaterina Guica in the Under 57 kg final. She secured the gold medal by serving an ippon to Guica, who was a member of the Canadian delegation to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio in the Under 52 kg category.
“As I prepared for the match, I didn’t give too much thought to the fact that I was competing against an Olympian,” said Klimkait. “I felt good and I believed I had a good chance. I went into it as I would any other competition and things turned out well.”
Klimkait is relishing her title of Canadian champion. “It was important to me to place first in the country. Now I want to focus my attention on international competitions.”
Following her absence from the last few national competitions, Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard was pleased to reclaim her title of Canadian champion. “It’s great to come home and win the title in front of my family.”
The Québécoise defeated Stéfanie Tremblay in the final. Neither of the two judokas was able to score. A shido, issued to Tremblay, finally decided the outcome. “We train together every day and we’ve competed against each other many times. We had told ourselves that we didn’t want a closed match and that ideally, the win would not be by shido. In the end, it was, but I’m happy. The match was pretty open and we were both able to attack.”
Having suffered a broken arm two weeks before the Olympic Games in Rio, Arthur Margelidon is slowly getting back on his feet one month after returning to competition. The Montrealer took the gold medal in the Under 81 kg group.
To get to the top of the podium, he defeated one of his training partners, Alex Marineau. “We all know each other’s techniques, strengths, and weaknesses, which makes the matches more difficult. It’s harder to surprise an opponent.”
Now that the disappointment of missing last summer’s Olympic Games is behind him, Margelidon is feeling confident about the next Olympic cycle. “I had a good comeback and now I’m focusing on the 2020 Tokyo Games,” he stated.
At only 17 years of age, Yumi Bellali laid down the law in the Under 52 kg group. Taking advantage of the fact that her compatriot Ecaterina Guica was competing in a higher weight class, the Québécoise climbed to the top of the podium.
“It was important to me to perform well here because this tournament is worth a lot of points and my victory enables me to qualify for the Junior World Championships,” said the athlete from Pointe-Claire, obviously pleased with the outcome. “I stuck to my game plan and that’s what allowed me to win,” she said, after defeating Quebec’s Marie Besson in the final.
The day’s other Canadian champions are Erin Morgan (-48 kg), Emily Burt (-70 kg), Mina Coulombe (-78 kg), Sarah Perks (+78 kg), Alexandre Dibartolo (-60 kg), Patrick Cantin (-73 kg), Zachary Burt (-90 kg), Shady El Nahas (-100 kg), and Kevin Gauthier (+100 kg).
The 2017 Elite National Championships will conclude on Sunday in Montreal. Sixteen titles are up for grabs in the 18 and Under category.
Watch: Video interview with Jessica Klimkait and Yumi Bellali
Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada
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