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Canadian judokas strike for three gold medals

Montréal, May 20th, 2012 — Antoine Valois-Fortier (-81 kg), Kelita Zupancic (-70 kg) and Amy Cotton (-78 kg), three athletes who will be representing Canada at the upcoming London Olympics, all claimed top honors on the day at the Orenburg European Cup, Sunday, in Russia.

Also in action, Alexandre Émond (-90 kg) finished in 9th after having to retire due to an injury he suffered during his third bout.

After a grueling, thirty hour flight, they arrived on site early Friday morning, and suffice it to say they were not in their best form. As Antoine Valois-Fortier later explained, the jet lag forced him to approach his five bouts a bit differently.

“I dominated my opponents strategically, not physically.  After the long trip, I didn’t have the strength to throw them to ground, so I had to use my smarts to get the job done,” pointed out the Quebecer, who was particularly pleased with his overall consistency in each bout.

“I had a game plan going into each fight, and I stuck with it. I was especially good with the positioning of my hands, and that helped me the most to beat opponents who were physically stronger than me.”

In the gold medal finale, the Québec-born judoka had the upper hand over the Russian Yusup-Khadzhi Aksagov, winning by ippon.

Kelita Zupancic also won by ippon in her respective final against Irina Gazieva (Russia), while Amy Cotton got the better of another Russian, Anastasia Dmitrieva, here winning by a yuko. The two Canadians finished the day with matching 3-0 records.

“This Cup kicked off our last run of preparatory tourneys before the Olympics, so today was a good sign for the upcoming weeks. This particular tournament was probably the most competitive of all the ones we’ll see on the European Cup circuit. We’ll be at the Moscow Grand Slam at the end of next weekend, and after that we’ll be able to train with the top Russian judokas, who make up one of the most competitive teams in the world,” Valois-Fortier concluded.