Montréal, February 27, 2022 – Canadian judokas Étienne Briand and Louis Krieber-Gagnon both ended their days on the podium at the European Open in Warsaw, Poland on Sunday. Briand won three out of four matches in overtime to take second place in the under-81 kg category, while Krieber-Gagnon won bronze in the under-90 kg group.
In the gold medal final, Briand faced off against Alfonso Urquiza Solana of Spain—ranked 34th in the world— in a showdown that lasted 8 minutes and 30 seconds.
Both sides made several advances without managing to score.
In overtime, the two finalists alternately attacked and blocked each other several times. The Canadian received two penalties, which left him with little room to manoeuvre. Urquiza Solana was then able to gain the upper hand and score a waza-ari.
“He was pretty closed off and very tactical, while I clearly lacked explosiveness. I had a bit of bad luck, but the main problem was that I wasn’t able to complete my techniques,” noted Briand. “I didn’t make too many mistakes during my fights, but in the final, I didn’t manage the lines very well. On the other hand, my experience and physical condition helped me a lot today.”
After enjoying a first-round bye, Briand defeated Italy’s Davide Nuzzo by waza-ari in his first bout on Sunday. It was the only one of his matches to be decided in regulation time.
He reached the semi-finals by defeating France’s Hugo Metifiot and Belgium’s Abdulu Malis Umayev, both of whom received three penalties against Briand.
“My fight against Umayev was tough and it stayed with me for the rest of the competition,” said Briand. He went on to defeat Spain’s Jose Mendiola Izquieta to advance to the final.
Today’s medal was Briand’s first since his bronze at the Grand Slam in Yekaterinburg and his silver at the Pan-American Championships, both in 2019.
“I had some trouble closing, but overall, it went well. It had been a long time since I’d fought several bouts in one competition or that I’d trained so seriously,” said Briand, who had elected to focus on his studies at the beginning of the pandemic.
“I had to make some choices that weren’t great for my judo, but I decided to pursue it more seriously again. Today’s results show that I’ve still got a little left in the tank!”
Krieber-Gagnon finishes strong
A few minutes later, it was Louis Krieber-Gagnon’s turn to fight for a medal.
The Canadian hoped to finish on a high note after a heartbreaking overtime loss in the semi-final, where he received three penalties against John Jayne of the USA, who later won gold.
“That loss was a disappointment. My mistake was to not attack enough. I was too passive,” said Krieber-Gagnon.
At his last European Open, in Oberwart in February 2020, Krieber-Gagnon finished fifth, and hoped to put that result behind him today.
He scored a waza-ari with 30 seconds to go in regulation time and was able to hold onto his lead against Mark Van Dijk, earning his first podium finish since 2018.
“This time, I was really motivated to win a medal. I’m glad to have ended the day on a high note,” he said.
Also in the under-90 kg category, Alexandre Arencibia and Keagan Young ended the tournament with one win and one loss. In the under-81 kg group, Mohab ElNahas lost his first bout of the day.
On the women’s side, Mina Coulombe (-78 kg) and Coralie Godbout (-78 kg) fought one match each, while Alicia Fiandor (-70 kg) was halted in her second round.
Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada
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