Montréal, February 18, 2022 – After finishing fifth in Paris earlier this month, François Gauthier-Drapeau had no intention of leaving Tel Aviv this week without a medal around his neck. That was his mission as he faced Austria’s Shamil Borchashvili in the bronze final at the Israel Grand Slam on Friday, and the Québécois achieved his goal after a lengthy eight-minute marathon.
“I’m really happy!” said Gauthier-Drapeau, explaining that he’s very satisfied with his accomplishments during the tournament. “I didn’t want to go home having lost a bronze medal final twice in a row. I took the match seriously and it paid off. My cardio seems to have improved over the past few weeks, which I think was an important factor in this match.”
To reach the bronze medal final, the 24-year-old beat Athanasios Milonelis of Greece by ippon in overtime in the first round before quickly defeating France’s Nicolas Chilard in the second.
He lost his chance at the gold medal when he was ousted in the quarter-final by Turkey’s Vedat Albayrak, who went on to win silver. Rather than let the loss get him down, however, Gauthier-Drapeau turned his attention to his repechage bout against Frank De Wit of the Netherlands, which he won in Golden Score.
“I had already fought him in the past, so I had a good idea of which strategy to use. It was an exhausting fight and I started to lose hope. In the end, he tired out before I did and I was able to apply certain sequences in overtime to score.”
During the match, Gauthier-Drapeau’s nose started to bleed profusely, to the point that he had to be seen by the medical team twice. He eventually had tape put around his head to stop the bleeding.
“The first time, they put something up my nose, but it kept bleeding. In the end, they decided, along with my physiotherapist, to put tape around my whole head to make sure it would stop. That allowed me to regain my calm and rethink my strategy. I’m sure it looked great!” he exclaimed.
Strong comeback for Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard
After having been eliminated in her first bout at the Paris Grand Slam in early February, Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard made a strong comeback in Tel Aviv by reaching the bronze medal final.
“Obviously, I would have liked to win a medal, but I fought better today than I did two weeks ago, so I’m happy with my day. It’s a bit of a disappointment, but it’s also an improvement. It was fun to compete in several bouts. It felt great!” she said.
In her final match, the Québécoise faced off against Manon Deketer of France. She put up a good fight, but Deketer was able to take advantage of a small error by Beauchemin-Pinard and claim the victory by ippon.
“Overall, I fought pretty well. I made a poor attack and she was able to get me in an arm lock. My ground technique was good, but that attack was what clinched it. Deketer is a solid opponent. It was a good fight and I was able to get some good attacks in,” said the Canadian judoka.
Earlier in the day, Beauchemin-Pinard received a first-round bye. Later, in her first fight, she defeated Maylin Del Toro Carvajal of Cuba. The win felt sweet to the Olympic bronze medallist.
“It feels good to get back onto the road to victory. The first bout is always stressful. It boosted my confidence and I knew I could win again.”
Beauchemin-Pinard then lost to Gemma Howell of Great Britain after receiving three penalties. Howell later won silver. Next, in the repechage, the 27-year-old Canadian wished to quickly gain control of the match. She needed only a few seconds to dispatch of Germany’s Nadja Bazynski.
“I didn’t want to let the referees start giving out penalties and decide the outcome. I went in strong against Bazynski. The fight was over quickly and I’m proud of it,” concluded Beauchemin-Pinard.
Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada
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