Olympic Qualifying

Wednesday April 13th, 2011


Several Canadian judokas in good position for Olympic qualifying


Montreal, April 12th, 2011 – The Pan-American Judo Championships, presented in Guadalajara twelve days ago, marked the halfway point in the Olympic qualifying process for the London Games next year.


The Games, which will take place in the British capital, is marked by a brand new Olympic selection process, explained the coach of team Canada, Nicolas Gill. “From 1996 to 2008, the selections were done continent to continent. Now it’s decided by the world standings, where the 5 best performances by any given athlete is taken into consideration from each year of the two year qualification process.”


For the Beijing Olympics, the Canadians counted on five judokas. If qualifying ended today, the next Olympics would feature nine Canadians in the judo competition.


However, as is the case with every Olympic Games, each country is limited to a single representative per judo category. With so many Canadians with Olympic credentials, some stiff competition is therefore expected within the team itself. Two judokas who have already passed the international criteria, Sergio Pessoa and Frazer Will, are currently neck and neck for the spot at -60 kg, while Michal Popiel and Sasha Mehmedovic are in the same situation at -66 kilos.


Other Canadians who have met the Olympic criteria thus far, which is to place in the top 14 for women and top 22 for men in the overall worldwide standing, are: Nicholas Tritton (-73kg), Antoine Valois-Fortier (-81kg), Alexandre Emond (-90kg), Myriam Lamarche (-63kg), Kelita Zupancic (-70kg) and Marylise Lévesque (-78kg). If the selection process ended today, Joliane Melançon (-57kg) would also be qualified.


Even though these athletes are in excellent position at the halfway mark, they’ll have to keep their guard up (figuratively and literally) as competitors currently below them have another year of qualifying to attempt to take their place.


“Qualifying is a long marathon, but the longer we have judokas who are in the running, the better chance we have to qualify an athlete in good health,” believes Gill. “For example, Sergio Pessoa was hit with an injury, which opened the door for Frazer Will to score important points at the Pan-American Championships, where he rose in the overall standings. Both Pessoa and Will are performing really well, so it’s an ideal situation for our team.”


The point of view of the athletes is a bit different from their two-time Olympic medalist coach, however.


“In the -78 kg category, there are three ladies battling for a spot. Marylise Lévesque is leading, but Catherine Roberge is back from an injury and Amy Cotton is right there, too. Few points separate the three athletes, except that Marylise is currently the only one to have qualified in the top 14 in the world. All it would take is a big performance from either Catherine or Amy for them to rise in the standings and into the range of those coveted 14 spots. It’s not easy for these athletes; spots are limited, and it’s tight competition at the moment.”


The culminating point of Olympic qualifying will take place next spring in the Pan-American Games in Montreal.


“It’s there where qualifying will come down to the last fight, “ concluded Gill, who will be participating in his second Olympics as a coach.



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Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada
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