Five-Medal Haul in Varadero

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Montréal, April 5, 2024 – On Friday in Cuba, the Canadian judo team concluded its two days of competition at the Pan-American Open in Varadero with a total of five medals: two gold and three bronze.

Photo: Facebook, Confederacion Panamericana de Judo
Isabelle Harris

Isabelle Harris (-63 kg) and Coralie Godbout (-78 kg) spearheaded the squad, claiming the two gold medals, while Laurence Gagnon (-57 kg), Tylor Collin (-60 kg), and Olivier Gagnon (-73 kg) secured the third spot on their respective podiums.

“We achieved our objective. The athletes came here to gain some experience and win some medals. Most of them accomplished their goals. It’s been a great trip!” said Canadian coach Alexandre Émond.

Harris defeated Maylin Del Toro Carvajal of Cuba by ippon to claim the title. The win was a significant one for the British Columbian, as it was her first victory over this opponent in four bouts. Their most recent face-off took place last fall, in the big final of the Santiago Pan-American Games in Chile.

“Isabelle is very, very happy and very emotional about this win. Recently, things haven’t been going so well for her in her tournaments, but now, having defeated the girl who always beat her, she’s very happy with her result. This win will give her a real confidence boost for the future, and that’s what she needs. She has what it takes to become a great international athlete,” explained Émond.

Harris also defeated Sara Golden of the USA in the semi-final and Odette Torriente Cabello of Cuba in the quarter-final.

In the under-78 kg final, Coralie Godbout faced Camila Figueroa of Peru, who had remained undefeated in her two matches against the Québécoise since 2022. Like her teammate Harris, the 22-year-old Canadian turned the tables on her adversary, claiming her first victory against her, and by ippon, to boot. Godbout also beat Cuba’s Lianet Cardona for the first time in today’s semi-final.

“She didn’t have much trouble winning her [last two] bouts. Her game plans were perfect,” said the coach and London 2012 Olympian.

The third woman to win a medal was Laurence Gagnon of Quebec (-57 kg), the youngest member of the Canadian delegation at 17 years old. She won bronze.

“Winning a medal at a senior international tournament is an excellent result for her. She was very happy. She worked hard and fought well. [. . .] It’s a very encouraging result for this young athlete.”

On the men’s side, Tylor Collin (-60 kg) of New Brunswick and Olivier Gagnon (-73 kg), Laurence’s brother, also finished in third place.

“Tylor was caught a bit off-guard in his first semi-final sequence, so he was disappointed about that, but he bounced back to claim third place thanks to a great manoeuvre on the ground, which we had practiced a lot during training. This is his first international medal, as well.”

Gagnon struggled with the style of the local athletes, according to his coach.

“The Cubans’ explosive physical style surprised him. It’s completely different from the style of the Europeans. It’s great that our young athletes are participating in tournaments in South America, so they can familiarize themselves with different styles of judo.”

David Popovici secured a berth in one of the two bronze medal finals in the under-81 kg category, but had to withdraw due to an injury. He ended the day in fifth place. Guillaume Gaulin obtained the same ranking in the under-90 kg category.

Matteo Fantozzi (-60 kg) and Frédéric De Cardaillac (-66 kg) finished seventh in their respective categories.

Alec Garan (-100 kg) finished his day with a 0-2 record, after having lost to his Cuban opponents. Maxime Ouimet met the same fate in the +100 kg group.


Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada

For more information:

Patrick Esparbès
Chief Operating Officer
Judo Canada
(514) 668-6279

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