François Gauthier-Drapeau accomplished a long-held goal when he won a bronze medal in the under-81 kg category at the European Open in Málaga, Spain, on Sunday. The Québécois, who is proud of his performance, plans to use this momentum to take his career to the next level.
“I’m really happy! It’s been a long time since I’ve won a medal at an international event, and I was looking forward to doing so. Plus, it was my first podium performance at an Open, so it’s pretty special. It feels good to be back!” stated an enthusiastic Gauthier-Drapeau, following the day’s events.
During the competition, the Canadian judoka displayed the full extent of his talent, concluding with a victory by waza-ari over Spain’s Alfonso Urquiza Solana in the bronze medal final.
However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Gauthier-Drapeau, who faced some challenging adversaries on the tatamis today. In the repechage, he defeated Italy’s Andrea Gismondo, a tough opponent he had struggled against in the past. But this time, the outcome was different.
“I was a bit nervous before the fight because he’s beaten me in the past,” explained Gauthier-Drapeau. “But I had a good idea of what to expect and was able to win with an ippon in the first minute, which really boosted my confidence and allowed me to save my energy for the bronze medal final.”
Gauthier-Drapeau’s only slip-up occurred in his quarter-final match against France’s Alpha Oumar Djalo, who went on to win the gold medal in their weight division. The two judokas waged a fierce battle, but in the end, Djalo emerged victorious in overtime.
“Even though I had never faced him before, I knew he was an excellent fighter. I received two penalties early in the bout, but I still put up a good fight and made some good attacks. However, I wasn’t quick enough with my holds, and he bested me in overtime,” noted Gauthier-Drapeau.
For the 23-year-old Canadian, today’s defeat will do nothing to overshadow his overall performance. Gauthier-Drapeau will return home with a medal around his neck and memories of a successful experience at the Grand Slam in Paris last week, both of which will serve to boost his motivation to demonstrate the full range of his abilities.
“My goal is to get back onto the senior national team. I hadn’t competed in a long time, but after this trip, I feel optimistic. I wanted some good results, and I went out and got them. I’m going to keep working on becoming even better and improving tactically,” he concluded.
Quebec’s Alex Marineau , who was also competing in the under-81 kg group, lost to Italy’s Mattia Gallina in his first and only bout of the day. British Columbia’s Alicia Fiandor (under-70 kg) met the same fate when she was ousted by Maxine Heyne of Belgium in the first round.
Louis Krieber-Gagnon (under-90 kg) was unable to fight due to an injury.