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While both lost in their respective finals last year,
Frédéric De Cardaillac and Catherine Toshkov each had only one thing on their minds Saturday, at the Canadian Judo Open Championships: to finish the competition with gold medals in the Under 21 Years of Age class.
Determined, they had perfect scorecards on the Centre Pierre-Charbonneau tatamis, so it was certainly a case of mission accomplished after an emotional day!
In action in the Under 66 kg category, De Cardaillac didn’t take long to reveal his medal ambitions, quickly winning his first three bouts to earn a place in the final duel. The Quebecer then put an exclamation point on his tournament by defeating a familiar rival, Alberta’s Troy Gallant. “We’ve met each other on the mat a few times, so we know each other well! He’s a big lefty and I knew what I had to do to counter him. I stayed patient and when I saw a few opportunities, I took advantage of them to score two waza-aris and win the tournament,” explained De Cardaillac said after his triumph. Crowned champion in the Under-16 category in 2018, and in the Senior category last year, the Montréal-based athlete said he was proud to have been able to add this medal to his list of achievements. “This was my last year to win at the Junior level (Under 21), and there was no way I was going to finish second again. I knew what I had to do and I did it to the letter,” he explained, mentioning in passing the importance of keeping a cool head on the tatami. “It’s something I’ve worked on a lot in the last few months. In the past I often had the tendency to want to go too fast, but not today (Saturday). I’ve been patient, I did good ground work and the preparation paid off. Motivated by this new gold medal, Frédéric De Cardaillac wants to keep his momentum in the coming months in order to return to the World Junior Championships next October. The first step in this long process will take place on Sunday in the senior category, where he will defend his title. Toshkov powered by a solid game plan It was hard to find an athlete that was happier at the medal ceremony than Catherine Toshkov, the U21 Under 57 kg champion. “Today went really, really well for me and I couldn’t be prouder right now,” said the Quebecer, who won all four of her bouts on Saturday. However, the road hasn’t been easy for the 17-year-old judoka and she had to chase away bad memories of the 2022 edition, where she lost to Aliya Koliaska of Alberta in the U18 grand final. The two crossed met again this year in the semi-finals, and this time it was Toshkov who had the proverbial last word with an ippon. The latter then completed a dream competition by defeating Mahee Savoie of New Brunswick in the gold medal bout. “I had a very good game plan and that made the difference,” said Toshkov of her title. “In every bout I made sure I got a good hold early and that allowed me to get into my rhythm and impose my style of judo. That was the key!” Beyond strategy, the newly crowned U21 champion also attributed much of her recent success to her optimized lifestyle to achieve goals on the mat. “Yes, we all do a lot of training, but there’s also everything else around it like nutrition and rest. In the last year, I’ve learned to have a well-balanced lifestyle and it’s the mix of all this that allows me to succeed”, concluded the judoka who also won gold medals at the Canadian Elite Championships and the Canada Games in the last few months. Toshkov will look to add to her tally on Sunday in the Senior event before turning her attention to upcoming international competitions in the summer, she hopes. Some 30 titles were awarded on Saturday, a day dedicated entirely to U21 and U16 tournaments. No less than 13 other gold medals will be up for grabs in the Senior category on Sunday, at the conclusion of the 2023 Canadian Open Championships. Didn’t read about your favourite judoka yet? Check out all results on the Judo Canada website. The competitions is also live streamed on judocanada.tv.