Three Canadian on the Podium in Sao Paulo

Monday June 27th, 2011

Montréal, June 26, 2011 – The Canadians imposed their will on Sunday, day two of the World Cup judo competition, which took place in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Ontario native, Kelita Zupancic, battled her way to a silver medal in the under 70 kg class, while Quebecers Amy Cotton and Marylise Lévesque, who both fight out of the under 78 kg weight class, each climbed the podium with third place finishes.
 
Zupancic, 11th in the world in the under 70 kg category, began in impressive fashion against the Brazilian, Glaudia Lima, and the Guatemalteca, Andrea Menegazzo, qualifying her for the semifinal where 18th ranked Brazilian, Maria Portela, lay in wait. “We’ve faced off frequently in tournaments this year and today (Sunday) happened to be my day!” Recounted the Canadian judoka, who won by ippon.
 
In the gold medal match, the 21-year-old athlete succumbed by ippon to the Colombian, Yuri Alvear, 8thbest judoka in the standings. “Things didn’t go very well. She’s an ex-world champion and every time I tried to attack, she found away to escape. You could say that things didn’t go my way,” she explained.
 
“It was the first time that I had faced her, so in that sense it was a good experience. She’s very sound, technically,” continued Zupancic.
 
Bronze medalist at the Rio de Janeiro Grand Slam last week, Zupancic is on a real hot streak. “For the last two months, I’ve participated at many training camps in Japan. I trained so hard that there was no question in my mind that I would do well in this latest series of competitions. I’m probably in the best condition that I could be in, and I have full confidence in my capacities.”
 
In the same category, the Quebecoise, Yacinta Nguyen-Huu, lost in the first round to the Brazilian, Nadia Merli. Due to the early loss, she did not receive a classification.
 
Two Canadians take home bronze medals
 
Still on the Women’s side, Amy Cotton and Marylise Lévesquefollowed an almost identical path on Sunday, both winning bronze medals in the under 78 kg weight class.
 
Cotton, the 18th best judoka in the world, beat the Brazilian, Samantha Soares, and followed that up with a win over Venezuelan, Keivi Pinto. In the semifinals, the 32nd ranked Chinese, Zhehui Zhang, was too much for the Quebecer to handle. “I was really disappointed with the refereeing. The judges gave an ippon to my opponent, even though I was the one who performed the move,” commented Cotton.
 
“It’s frustrating because if I had made it to the final, I would have received important points that would have helped with my Olympic selection,” she went on to explain.
 
In her bronze medal duel, Cotton faced off against the Guatemalteca judoka, Mirla Nolberto Labriel. She would eventually win by ippon. “It was a very technical fight. I didn’t want to get caught making the same move that went against me the previous match.”
 
For her part, Marylise Lévesque, 22nd in the world, started off her competition with a solid bout against the Colombian, Amy Cortes. “She beat me last April in the Pan-American Championships, a loss that deprived me of a bronze medal. So in many ways, this was a revenge match for me,” explained Lévesque, who would go on to beat the Guatemalteca, Mirla Nolberto Labriel in the second round.
 
In the semifinals, Lévesque met up with the Portuguese, Yahima Ramirez, ranked 23rd in the standings. “The beginning of the bout went well, but after that I tried an attacking maneuver in the wrong position, and my opponent took advantage to counter-attack and pin me with an ippon.”
 
In her match for the bronze, Lévesque defeated the Venezuelan, Keivi Pinto, by scoring two waza-ari. “I’d never faced her before, but luckily I had trained with her during the week. I was very prudent at first, but eventually everything came together.”
 
In the Men’s competition, the Quebecers, Kalem Kachur and Antoine Valois-Fortier, were in action in the under 81 kg category, but neither were able to classify. Kachur lost his first round bout with the Iranian, Amir Ghaseminejad. Valois-Fortier incurred a similar fate, falling to the German judoka, Alexander Wizczerzak.
 
The Canadian team will now make its way from South America to Florida, where they will compete, next week, in the Miami World Cup.
 
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Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada

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