In the wake of Julien Frascadore’s (-66 kg) silver medal performance yesterday at the Pan-American Games in Santiago, three more Canadians reached the podium in their respective categories on Sunday. Isabelle Harris had the best result, finishing second in the under-63 kg weight category.
Her only loss of the day came at the hands of Cuba’s Maylin Del Toro Carvajal—who is ranked 20th in the world in the weight class—in the big final.
“I would really have liked to go all the way and win the gold medal, but I’m still satisfied with how things went. It was not an easy day. This medal means a lot to me. These are my first Games, this is a very special moment, and I’m proud of it,” said Harris.
Earlier, the British Columbian had defeated Prisca Awiti Alcaraz of Mexico in the quarter-final, before disposing of Ketleyn Quadros of Brazil to claim her spot in the big final. Harris won both her matches by ippon.
“I had a bye in the first round, then I was up against the Mexican, who has beaten me in the past. I followed my game plan to the letter, and I managed to throw her twice to win. The Brazilian is also an excellent athlete, but I was feeling confident, and I won a second time,” she added.
Quebec’s Antoine Bouchard competed in the under-73 kg category. His day got off to a rough start when he lost to Daniel Cargnin of Brazil. Fortunately for the 29-year-old, however, he soon had the opportunity to get back on track in the repechage.
He made the most of it, defeating Juan Pablo Vega of Chile to advance to the bronze medal final, where he bested Antonio Tornal of the Dominican Republic in overtime to claim the hardware.
The medal holds special significance for Bouchard, who will retire from sport in the next few months.
“This is my last major competition, except for one in Montréal. One of my final goals was to win a medal here [at the Pan-American Games]. Luckily, I did it, following a very tight match. I’m really happy!” exclaimed Bouchard.
The last Canadian competitor of the day was David Popovici, who also won a bronze medal in the under-81 kg division. The judoka from Dorval began his day by defeating Kell Berliner of the USA. Next, in the quarter-final, he bowed out to Guilherme Schmidt of Brazil, who is ranked third in the world in the weight class and who later won the gold medal. Popovici did not let the loss slow him down, however, and he took control once again in the repechage, ousting Tomas Morales of Argentina to secure his spot in the bronze medal match.
The 21-year-old judoka then ended the day in fine style, securing the victory in overtime after a long bout against Maikel Mc Kenzie Londres of Cuba.
“I’m very happy! I’m really glad to be competing at the Pan-American Games, and even more excited to have won a medal. I started feeling some fatigue in my final fight, but I pushed through to the very end to win. I knew it would probably be a long bout, and I was nervous because I really wanted a medal,” stated Popovici.
“Frankly, I’m proud of our athletes today [Sunday]. So far, all of my expectations have clearly been surpassed. Every single athlete showed up here with a desire to win, and that’s truly what’s made the difference,” enthused coach Sasha Mehmedovic.
On Monday, Canadians Coralie Godbout (-78 kg), Shady ElNahas (-100 kg) and Marc Deschênes (+100 kg) will hit the tatamis on the final day of individual competition at the Pan-American Games.