Simon Gauthier-Hansen and Juliette Mireault Defend their Title!

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Simon Gauthier-Hansen and Juliette Mireault had to overcome several challenges to make it to the Open National Championships this year, but on Thursday, they proved that all the hard work had paid off, winning gold in Ju-no-kata for the second year in a row.

Photo: Judo Canada
Simon Gauthier-HansenandJuliette Mireault

A few weeks ago, Mireault had to move to Quebec City, which meant she was less often available to train with her partner, who lives in Longueuil. Although they were only able to train together on Saturdays and Sundays, the two judokas were nevertheless fully prepared by the time they arrived at the Centre Sportif Pierre-Charbonneau in Montréal.

“We’re a bit proud, and we wanted to hold on to our title this year!” admitted Mireault. “Every year, the level of competition increases, so we’re very proud of having done well, and we’re happy to have won. We knew we were up against some very strong athletes. As we watched their performances, we felt a bit nervous, but our determination is what made the difference.”

The pair dominated the competition with a score of 401 points. Alberta’s Wesley Enns and Kelly Palmer finished second with 369.5 points, and Ontario’s Shane LeGros and Dan Rusu finished third with 351.

“Winning again is amazing! The stress of hoping you’ll perform the way you want to never goes away,” explained Gauthier-Hansen. “This medal qualifies us for the Pan-American Championships in Bogotá and the World Championships in Las Vegas, so it’s a pretty big deal! I never thought I’d reach such a high level, but we got caught up in the competition.”

Also in the senior category, Pierre Pelletier and Ivan Fournier captured gold in Kodokan Goshin-Jutsu with a score of 531. Daniel Bird and Masoud Naeimi of Ontario secured silver with 491.5, and Palmer and Enns won bronze.

In Kime-no-kata, Shane Rooney and Bailey Hu of Ontario finished at the top of the podium. Their score of 482 points allowed them to edge out Ontario’s LeGros and Rusu (476 points) and the Québécois duo of Mario Pageau and Marin Vallières (457 points).

Palmer and Enns won a total of three medals today. In addition to their podium finishes in Ju-no-kata and Kodokan Goshin-Jutsu, the Albertans won gold in Katame-no-kata, with a score of 370 points. Simon Dufour and Philippe Dutremble of Quebec finished second with 325.5 points, while Les Darts and Riley Maruyame of British Columbia finished third with 315.

Photo: Judo Canada
Amanda Sousa and Richard Turner

Richard Turner and Amanda Sousa crowned champions

The action resumed in the afternoon with the Ne-Waza events, where Alberta’s Richard Turner and Manitoba’s Amanda Sousa claimed the championship belts.

Last year, Turner finished third in the same event, and this year, he returned to Montréal with the firm intention of going all the way. His goal was to take top honours, and that’s exactly what he did. After winning the over-81 kg gold medal, he went on to compete against the winners of the other categories, as per the tournament format.

He triumphed over Quebec’s Ludwing Ortiz (-81 kg), Christophe St-Godard and Saskatchewan’s Michael Yee (-66 kg) to claim the title of overall Canadian Ne-Waza champion.

“I feel great, but I’m exhausted! I trained hard for this competition, and I’ve had a good season, so I felt confident arriving here. After finishing third last year, I wanted to come back stronger,” said Turner.

Sousa was also delighted with today’s outcome.

“It’s fantastic! I was super excited about this competition. My training went well, and I really enjoyed this experience,” said Sousa, who began her day by winning the over-63 kg contest. She then prevailed over New Brunswick’s Vicky Pitre (-63 kg), Alberta’s Isla Diesmos (-52 kg) and Yukon’s Lia Hinchey to be crowned overall Canadian champion.

“I’ve been working on a new technique, and I was able to use it today. I was really nervous during the competition! For me, the first bout is always the hardest. I did everything I could to stay focused and calm,” she explained.

A total of 1,148 judokas will take part in the Open National Championships, and the event will continue on Friday with the Veterans and U18 competitions.

Watch the live webcast to catch all the action!

For the competition results, click here.

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