Montréal, February 17, 2013 – Ontarian Kelita Zupancic took home top honours in the under 70 kg category, Sunday, at the Oberwart Continental Open, in Austria. Meanwhile, in Hungary, Antoine Valois-Fortier also made his way onto the podium, winning the bronze medal in the under 81 kg class, in Budapest.
After narrowly missing gold last week at the Paris Grand Slam, Kelita Zupancic put together another fine performance in Oberwart. “Like last week, I was feeling very confident today. I’ve been riding a wave of momentum throughout this European tour,” the delighted 22-year-old judoka explained. “The training camp in Paris took its toll on me a bit today (Sunday), but I was able to stay positive and give my all.”
The Canadian, seventh in the world in her division, was a force to be reckoned with in each of her four matches.
Zupancic began her day with a victory over the Russian Irina Gazieva (74th) by ippon. Her next two opponents, Japanese Yoko Ono (68th) and Frenchwoman Valériane Fichot fell in likewise fashion. “I knew I was ready for every battle. I just wanted to stay focused, take it one bout at a time and stay in my zone. It went perfectly!”
In the final, she defeated the Korean Kim Seong Yeon, 24th ranked judoka in the world. I followed my strategy to a tee, and things really fell into place for me. As long as I stuck with my technical approach, I knew she wouldn’t be able to throw me to ground, and that’s exactly how it unfolded. I managed to score a point against her, and it ended up being enough for the win.”
The top seed in the tourney, Zupancic knew better than to take her opponents lightly. “I knew there were many good athletes in the competition, as well as opponents I’d never faced. I was ready,” the judoka, who’s looking to medal in a third straight tournament, went on to elaborate.
Valois-Fortier makes the podium in Budapest
In action at the Budapest Continental Open in Hungary, Antoine Valois-Fortier won his first medal of the season.
The 22-year-old Quebecer, ranked 12th overall, won four of the five bouts he took part in. A win by ippon over the Austrian Marcel Ott, an extremely competitive judoka in the under 73 kg class who had just recently changed categories, permitted his return to the podium.
It was the Japanese Tomohiro Kawakami, 24th in the world, that beat Valois-Fortier in the semifinals, throwing the Quebecer to ground for a match-winning ippon. Kawakami went on to grab the title with a victory over the Mongolian Uuganbaatar Otgonbaatar (29e), in the gold medal final.
Earlier, Valois-fortier dominated his fights against the Russian Mikhail Kazydub, the German Benjamin Meunnich and Ukrainian judoka Vitaliy Popovich.
“I had a solid outing today. Slowly but surely my form is returning, and now I’ve got the results to show for it. I got over a hurdle today in that I proved I could adapt to the new rules,” Valois-Fortier affirmed. The Quebecer was disqualified in the second round last week at the Paris Grand Slam.
“To be honest, I was a bit frustrated to have lost against a guy who I’d beaten several times before, and it was especially tough to swallow by the way it played out. I thought it was a really odd decision. There were a few more weird calls this weekend, but not as bad. Obviously there’s going to be an adaptation period, not only for the athletes, but for the judges as well.”
Next week, Valois-Fortier and Zupancic will be amongst the Canadian contingent who will make their way to the Düsseldorf Grand Prix, in Germany.