Isabelle Harris announces comeback with fourth straight podium finish

Bronze medal is Priscilla Gagné’s sweet revenge!
15 March 2023
Canada dominates in Sarajevo with three medals
20 March 2023

Munkhjin Batdorj and Laurence Biron fifth in Sarajevo

After having been forced out of competitions for a few months due to injury, Isabelle Harris didn’t let her absence show on Saturday at the Medellin Panamerican Open in Colombia, where she earned bronze. The Canadian obtained her fourth medal in as many continental outings since last July.

“It was really nice to be back and I’m very happy with my day! I had to take a break to look after an injury, but I felt really good today. It’s a great way to get back into the competition,” said Harris, who capped off her day by defeating Keyla Vasquez of Colombia in the Under 63kg class.
The Canadian didn’t give her opponent any room to manoeuvre in the match; she scored a waza-ari in the first moments, and then continued to apply pressure to cause the Colombian judoka to make a mistake.
Harris’ efforts paid off in the final minute of the bout, when she threw Vasquez to the ground to score the ippon and seal her win.
“She tried to surprise me at first, but I didn’t bite. After that, I knew exactly what to do to beat her. I was dominant and so I was never in danger. It was a very good fight for me and I’m proud of my performance,” continued the 21-year-old.
Earlier in the day, Harris qualified for the semi-finals by defeating Creymarlin Valdez of the Dominican Republic. The Canadian judoka went on to put up a good fight against Cuba’s Maylin Del Toro Carvajal, but fell to her rival, who won with an ippon at the 93rd second of the duel.
In 17th place in the international rankings, Harris got the wind back on her sails and defeated the tournament favourite – Venezuelan Anriquelis Barrios, who would go on to take silver, with Del Toro Carvajal taking gold. On the third step of the podium, Harris had a smile of satisfaction.
“I knew my semi-final bout would be tough, but I did well. I made a mistake, but I showed that I can fight against women in this class,” said Harris, who’s aiming for the podium again in a few weeks in Santo Domingo for another Pan-American Open.
“I earned three bronze medals and one silver in my last competitions, and I’m going to do what it takes to go for another one! I think my confidence and preparation really makes a big difference, and the results are demonstrative of that. I’m ready, I’m working hard in training, and I’m on my way,” she concluded.
Also in action on the tatami in Colombia, Jacob Valois’ day came to an end after his first bout against Costa Rican Julian Sancho. Sancho won by Ippon in the first minute and then went on to place fifth overall.
The Medellín Panamerican Open will continue on Sunday, where Adriana Portuondo-Isasi (-78 kg) will be the only Canadian to compete in the event’s last day.
Juniors come up short in Sarajevo
Munkhjin Batdorj and Laurence Biron also competed in a bronze final on Saturday at the Sarajevo Junior European Cup (Bosnia-Herzegovina). However, both were defeated and finished fifth in their respective categories.
In judo action in the Under 73kg category, Batdjorj started his day with three straight wins, which enabled him to reach the semi-finals, where he lost to eventual silver medallist Luke Davies of England.
The Quebecer then headed to one of the two bronze finals to face Bosnia’s Uros Macar. The latter local judoka had the audience’s cheers and ended up winning by ippon, pushing Batdorj back one spot on the podium.
Macar submitted Lasha Tsatsalashvili to the same fate in the fourth round of the repechage, which ended the tournament for the Ontarian, who is currently ranked seventh in the class with two wins and two losses.
Laurence Biron had a similar tournament to Batdorj. She won her first two bouts in the Under 70kg category, but then lost in the semi-finals to eventual champion Aleksandra Kowalewska (Poland).
The Quebecer had another chance to get her hands on a medal with a bout against Nina Grubisic in the bronze final. However, Macar won by ippon in the third minute of the match, to the dismay of Coach Sasha Mehmedovic.
“I wasn’t very happy with how Munkhjin and Laurence finished the day. They’re two of our most experienced athletes and they let the referees decide their fates, they expected to see their opponents penalized, but it backfired quickly,” analyzed the Canadian Junior Team Coach.
“There are still positives to take away from this tournament; and both of them were able to get through to the semi-finals. We expected to see them on the podium, but it’s a good lesson to learn, and they can work on ensuring they don’t make that kind of mistake again,” the experienced former judoka explained.
Also from the Under 73kg draw, Olivier Gagnon (2-2) and Jeremie Ngmobie (1-1) were unable to achieve a ranking. It was a similar situation for Victor Dessureault (-60 kg) who won from the start, before losing in his next two bouts.
Raphael Gaanan (-60 kg), Daniil Kremerman (-60 kg), Luke Thomson (-60 kg), Frédéric De Cardaillac (-66 kg) and Norbert Peter Andras (-66 kg) could not find their way to victory on Saturday.
The European Open in Sarajevo will conclude on Sunday, and a raft of Canuck women will take to the tatami: Heidi Quach (-48 kg), Marie-Lune Turmel (-48 kg), Ekaterina Danilkov (-48 kg), Violette Louet (-52 kg), Sarra Bourihane (-52 kg), Evelyn Beaton (-52 kg) and Hailey Ko (-57 kg) will fight for the girls.
In the mens’ category, Jumber Meladze (-81 kg), Alec Garand (-90 kg), Michael Akbashev (-90 kg) and John Jr. Messé A Bessong (+100 kg) will compete on Sunday.


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