Canadian Open Championships 17 May 2023
Marianna Karas and Yehor Paladii sweep their classes in Montréal 20 May 2023
Alexandria Lefort and Ludwing Ortiz were two of the standout stars Thursday, the first day of the Canadian Open Championships at Montréal’s Centre Pierre-Charbonneau. In addition to winning the gold medals in their respective categories in Ne Waza, they were also crowned overall champions.
Ontario’s Lefort won the Over 63 kg title by defeating Québec’s Stéphanie Lachance twice. She then followed up with back-to-back wins over Liwen Zhang (British Columbia) and Vicky Pitre (New Brunswick) to win the Canadian Ne Waza title. “I’m extremely happy to have won today (Thursday). I’ve had a few injuries over the past few weeks but I felt great on the mat, so it’s been extremely good for my confidence,” noted Lefort, who’s looking to continue her winning ways on Sunday in the Senior division. “I always want to finish first when I’m on the mat. A day like this with two first places is so satisfying!” On the men’s tatami, Ludwing Ortiz (a native of Venezuela and now a Canadian resident), won his first two bouts of the day by ippon in the Under 81 kg class. He then made short work of Nova Scotia’s Kyle Sutherland in the semi-finals, before securing the gold medal in his category with an ippon victory in the final against Mohammad Bakhtiyar Hamza of Ontario. The Quebecer-by-adoption went on to take top honours in the tournament to become the overall champion, first defeating Billy-Joe Baldonado of Alberta and then Thomas Badat of Québec in the grand final. “I didn’t really know what to expect at the beginning of the day, but I had a lot of fun. I’m happy to have won the gold medal and especially the overall title. It wasn’t the easiest competition, and the final against Thomas Badat was pretty tough. I’m very proud of my day,” commented Ortiz.
Two medals for the Enns-Palmer duo Albertans Wesley Enns and Kelly Palmer characterized themselves as super motivated heading into Thursday morning’s Ju No Kata and Katame No Kata competitions. Their determination paid off and they finished the day with a gold and a silver medal. “I am so, so happy with these medals today! There were very talented teams in both categories. We’ve worked hard over the past few years to earn these medals and we’re very proud of ourselves,” commented Wesley Enns. Despite contrasting sizes, Enns and Palmer turned their differences into advantages and impressed the judges, who awarded them the gold medal in Katame No Kate. The duo earned a total of 390 points, 50 more than silver medalists, Ludovic Durrieu and Eric Derome of Québec. “We’ve made several adjustments in the last few months to get the results we did today. I’m really a lot smaller than my teammate and we wanted to take advantage of that discrepancy. It’s impressive to see a smaller athlete controlling a bigger one, I think that really caught their eyes,” said Kelly Palmer. In Ju No Kata, the Albertans finished on the second step of the podium behind Simon Gauthier-Hansen and Juliette Mireault from Québec. Judokas from Québec, namely Mario Pageau and Martin Vallières, in Kime No Kata, Ivan Fournier and Pierre Pelletier, in Goshin Jutsu, as well as Frédéric Lachance and Jean-Sébastien Roy, in Nage No Kata, won the other medals up for grabs in the various Kata categories on Thursday. Need more judo action? Have no fear, the Canadian Open Championships will continue until Sunday at Centre Pierre-Charbonneau! Didn’t read about your favourite judoka yet? Check out all results on the Judo Canada website.