Only forty seconds had elapsed in Priscilla Gagné’s final bout of the day when the referee declared her the winner of the bronze medal at the Parajudo Grand Prix in Almada, Portugal, on Tuesday.
Gagné had quickly taken control of her fight against Italy’s Asia Giordano in the under-57 kg J1 category. She threw her opponent to the ground with ease before forcing her to give up with a shime waza.
Gagné’s run to the third step of the podium had not begun as the runner-up world champion would have liked. In her first bout of the day, the 36-year-old judoka was pitted against Dondu Yesilyurt of Turkey, who had defeated her in the final of the most recent World Championships. Despite her best efforts, Gagné was unable to exact her revenge on Yesilyurt, who scored a waza-ari with just over two minutes to go in regulation time and maintained her lead until the end of the match, despite numerous attacks by the Canadian.
“The under-57 kg J1 category is the only weight division in which all the current World Championships medallists competed against each other, and the four most recent Worlds medal winners are all on the podium,” noted Canadian national team coach Andrzej Sadej.
Gagné then moved on to the repechage, where she defeated Maria Manzanero Ruiz of Spain. After scoring a waza-ari, Gagné successfully fended off her opponent’s counterattack. With just over a minute left in the fight, Gagné was defending herself on the ground when she grabbed Manzanero Ruiz’s arm. Her technique overpowered her opponent and gave her the win.
Also in action in the under-57 kg J1 category in Portugal was Christina Mowatt, who also battled Asia Giordano of Italy on Tuesday. Giordano knocked the Canadian to the mat, then completed her manoeuvre on the ground to win by ippon.
In the repechage, Mowatt faced Ina Cernei of Moldova. Both judokas received penalties for non-combativity in the first minute of the match. Fifteen seconds later, Cernei took the lead, then scored an ippon to advance to the next round.
“After her surprising fifth-place finish at the World Championships, Christina is now taken more seriously. Her opponents know how to fight her without risking a strong counterattack, at which she excels,” said Sadej.
On Monday, Justin Karn kicked off the Almada Grand Prix with a victory over Ronald Hawthorn of the USA in the under-60 kg J2 category. However, he lost his next two fights to Luis Gavilan of Spain and Min Jae Lee of South Korea, who went on to win the category’s two bronze medals.