Montréal, February 10, 2013 – Ontarian Kelita Zupancic came away with a silver medal in the under 70 kg class, while Catherine Roberge won bronze at under 78 kg, Sunday, at the Paris Grand Slam of Judo in France.
13th ranked Zupancic made quick work of her first three opponents. She dispatched in successive fashion the Frenchwoman Karine Berger, German Laura Vargas Koch and Frenchwoman Marie Pasquet all by way of ippon to reach the final.
“It was really an incredible day for me, Zupancic indicated. My fierceness in training and my passion for the sport has allowed me to enjoy the brightest moment of my career. Just walking out onto the tatamis here in Paris, with all the ambiance, it’s amazing.”
In the final, she was upset by the Dutchwoman Kim Polling, ranked 24th in the International Federation of Judo standings. Polling had previously beaten the #1 judoka in the world, the Frenchwoman Lucie Décosse, earlier in the day.
“The final was a difficult battle, but all in all, I’m really happy with my performance on the day, she went on to mention. My victory against Pasquet in the semifinals was surely my biggest win of the competition. To beat a judoka at home in front of her fans, who are rooting for her all the way, it’s really something else.”
“I sincerely hope I can keep up the momentum that I gained here for the whole season, because I felt really great today (Sunday) and was pumped to get out there this morning.”
An all-Canadian battle for bronze
The Canadian contingent were assured a bronze medal in the under 78 kg class, as the bout featured teammates Catherine Roberge, 13th in the world, and Amy Cotton, 7th overall.
Neither judoka was able to garner any offense, to the point where Roberge came out on top due to Cotton taking more penalties. In her semifinal bout, Roberge faced a similar scenario versus the 4th ranked Japanese Akari Ogata, where it was she who took too many penalties and lost.
“It’s a nice medal to add to the collection, Roberge pointed out. I won a silver medal here 10 years ago, and today I took home a bronze. I’m extremely pleased with the result.”
Ogata would go on to lose in the final to the Frenchwoman Luce Louette. Earlier in the day, Roberge beat the Korean Hyunji Yoon by ippon before taking out the Hungarian Abigel Joo.
“With the new rules in place, it was a learning process throughout much of the day, and I was scared I might slip up and get disqualified. My plan to beat the Hungarian was to take her by the sleeve as instructed by my coach (Nicolas Gill) because she’s tall (6’1”). The referees handed out seven penalties in 1 min 45 secs. They didn’t give us a lot of leeway to do our job, which was pretty frustrating. I put together a really decent performance against the Japanese, she continued on. It was five minutes of war, but I’m happy with how I battled. To lose after giving your all, all you can be is satisfied.”
As for Cotton, she defeated the Ukrainian Maryna Pryshchepa before falling to the Korean Gyeong-Mi Jeong. In the repechage, she got the better of the Frenchwoman Audrey Tcheymeo to earn the right to fight for the bronze medal.
The bronze medalist in the under 81 kg division at the London Olympic Games, Antoine Valois-Fortier was also in action, but was disqualified in his second bout, one of many casualties to the new, freshly implemented rules. “They disqualified me because I took hold of my opponents leg too quickly while we are on the ground,” he retorted by way of his twitter account.