Whitby's Kelita Zupancic eyes podium in Paris

Tuesday August 23rd, 2011

August 22, 2011

WHITBY -- Whitby's Kelita Zupancic is among the Canadians hoping to bring home a medal from the judo world championships taking place in Paris, France, beginning Aug. 23.


Zupancic is the lone Ontario athlete on the 11-member Canadian contingent, with the other 10 hailing from Quebec.

Competing in the last major tournament prior to the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the team will be led by three coaches also from Quebec, including two-time gold medalist Nicolas Gill.

"It will be the biggest judo world championship in history, with over a hundred participants competing in numerous categories," Gill said in a press release. "After looking at the draw, many judokas will have one to two rounds of slightly easier competition before meeting more challenging foes. The tournament will thus have a different feel to it, a new experience for everybody. Still, the athletes will be well acquainted with their opponents and most have competed in Paris before."

Although not one of the favored nations, Canada could be line for some potential upsets, said Gill.
"We have a good group of athletes and four or five could very easily classify amongst the top 10. If everything goes well, one of them could even come away with a medal."

Gill believes Zupancic and Nicholas Tritton, both bronze medalists at Grand Slam tourneys earlier this year, have solid chances of climbing the podium.

To refine and hone her skills, Zupancic just finished a yearlong stay in Japan, where she was a member of the Komatsu judo women's team. She received the invitation to join the squad in January 2010, and she embraced the experience, even though she was the only member not of Japanese origin.

"I learnt a lot about myself, and figured out what works and what doesn't work for me. I also noticed that the training techniques between those of the Canadian and Japanese are quite different," the 21-year-old athlete explained, adding that she's returning home with a technical palette that's more varied.

Ranked 11th in the world in the under 70-kg class, Zupancic has high expectations for herself in the French capital.

"Of course I want to win gold, but a more realistic goal for myself is to climb the podium," she said.


Source: http://newsdurhamregioncom/sports/article/183671

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