Zupancic wins bronze

Monday June 20th, 2011

Ontario athlete reaches podium for first time at Grand Slam event
Montreal, June 19, 2011 – Kelita Zupancic won the bronze medal in women’s 70 kilos Sunday at a Grand Slam judo competition in Rio de Janeiro. It was her first career podium appearance at a Grand Slam event. Marylise Lévesque in 78 kilos and Antoine Valois-Fortier in 81 kilos also sparkled earning fifth place finishes in their respective categories.
Zupancic, ranked 15th in the world, had a first round bye then defeated Nadia Merli of Brazil, ranked 93rd internationally, by Ippon in the second round.
In the quarterfinal, she discarded Erica Barbieri of Italy, ranked 16th in the world, by Yuko. ‘’She’s a very good athlete but I had fought her before so I knew what to do,’’ said Zupancic. ‘’I was able to control the bout which helped me win.’’
The 21-year-old Zupancic’s run ended in the semifinal against Yoriko Kunihara of Japan, ranked seventh internationally. Zupancic scored a Yuko but it wasn’t enough as her opponent responded with a Waza-ari to obtain a berth in the final. ‘’The bout was going really well,’’ said Zupancic. ‘’But I had some bad luck. Unfortunately these things happen and it didn’t go my way today.’’
‘’I’m disappointed because I came close to winning but satisfied with my overall tournament. It’s my first medal at a Grand Slam event so it’s a nice accomplishment.’’
Kunihara defeated Yuri Alvear of Colombia in the gold medal match. Maria Portela of Brazil earned the other bronze medal.
Also on Sunday, Lévesque and Amy Cotton competed in 78 kilos.
Lévesque, ranked 24th in the world, lost by Ippon to Mayra Aguiar of Brazil, ranked sixth, in the quarterfinal to finish fifth.
As for Cotton, ranked 19th, she was ousted in the round of 16. She fell to Yalennis Castillo of Cuba, ranked 22nd, who beat the Nova Scotian by two Waza-ari.
Great day for Valois-Fortier
In men’s competition, Antoine Valois-Fortier, ranked 39th in the world, held his own against top opponents in 81 kilos to place fifth.
Valois-Fortier had a first round bye then beat Emmanuel Lucenti, ranked 17th inthe world, in the second round. He then faced Masahiro Takamatsu, ranked 12th in the world, in the round of 16.
The 21-year-old Valois-Fortier surprised his opponent by scoring an Ippon to advance to the quarterfinals. ‘’It was the Ippon of the day,’’ said national coach Nicolas Gill. ‘’The Japanese combatant was a bronze medallist at the last world championships.’’
The Canadian’s great run ended in the quarterfinal where he lost by Ippon to world number-three Ivan Nifontov of Russia.
Kalem Kachur of Quebec also competed in 81 kilos. He lost his opening bout to world number-two Leandro Guilheiro.
The Canadian judokas will stay in Brazil and head to Sao Paulo for a World Cup event next weekend.

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