Montréal, December 3, 2022 – François Gauthier-Drapeau put his heart and soul into his performance at the Tokyo Grand Slam on Saturday. Three of his five bouts went into overtime, including his final fight for a bronze medal, where he ultimately bowed out to Sotaro Fujiwara of Japan.
Having earned a bye in the first round, Gauthier-Drapeau kicked off his run in the under-81 kg tournament with a fight against Sergelen Luvsandemberel of Mongolia. The Canadian was declared victor when his opponent received a third shido.
His next bout looked much the same. In that round, Italy’s Giacombo Gamba received three penalties to put an end to the seven-minute-long match.
“It was a difficult tournament. All my fights were long and gruelling,” said Gauthier-Drapeau at the end of the day.
In his next contest, the Québécois lost to Takeshi Sasaki of Japan and moved on to the repechage, where he faced Nicolas Chilard of France in a match that once again went into overtime. Gauthier-Drapeau secured the fight by ippon to advance to the bronze medal final, where Fujiwara won in overtime, depriving the fatigued Canadian of a spot on the podium.
“On a technical level, I handled my early fights well, but in the bronze medal final, I made some strategic errors that cost me the medal,” noted the 24-year-old Canadian.
Although his techniques were not always successful, Gauthier-Drapeau relied on his various game plans to win his arduous fights.
“It’s a good sign when your techniques don’t work but you win anyway!” noted coach Antoine Valois-Fortier. “He came very close to winning the bronze medal, and we believed he had a good chance. François has been having good days on a fairly consistent basis, so we’re getting close! The way I see it, it’s only a matter of time before his fifth-place finishes turn into medals.”
In under-73 kg action, Arthur Margelidon defeated Kenshi Harada of Japan before being eliminated by Alexander Bernd Gabler of Germany, who won by waza-ari. Margelidon, who was trailing Gabler with one minute to go, gave his all but was unable to close the gap.
At his first-ever Grand Slam, Alexandre Arencibia finished the day with a record of one win and one loss in the under-90 kg weight division. In his first round against Monaco’s Nicolas Grinda, he won by default as his opponent did not appear. Next, he lost to Japan’s Sanshiro Murao after receiving three penalties. Murao went on to win a bronze medal.
The level of competition is always very high in Tokyo and the women were not spared.
Despite an excellent start, Christa Deguchi (-57 kg) was ousted in her hotly contested first fight of the day by the young Japanese judoka Akari Omori. Omori, who later won a bronze medal, scored a waza-ari more than two minutes into overtime to secure the match.
In her opening bout, Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard bowed out to Miku Takaichi of Japan in the under-63 kg category. Takaichi, who had taken a long break after the Olympic Games, won all her fights today to claim the gold medal on home soil.
“It was a tough draw. Takaichi is one of the best Japanese judokas of the past several years. Her low international ranking is attributable to her recent break. All in all, Catherine fought well. A transition error on the ground cost her the match, but she looked good throughout the fight,” noted Valois-Fortier.
The Japanese team captured all six gold medals of the day at the Tokyo Grand Slam, in addition to four silver and seven bronze.
The tournament will continue on Sunday. Kyle Reyes (-100 kg) and Kelly Deguchi (-52 kg) will hit the tatamis for Canada.
Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada
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