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Three medals for Canadian judokas in Coimbra

Montréal, March 16, 2014 – The Canadian squad was back at it, Sunday, winning three more medals at the Junior European Cup being presented in Coimbra, Portugal. The Quebecoise Ana Laura Portuondo Isasi won gold in the under 78 kg class, while Louis Krieber-Gagnon (-81 kg) and Sophie Vaillancourt (+78 kg) took home silver medals in their respective categories.

 Portuondo Isasi, now 18-years-old, was making her third appearance in this tournament. After coming away with a bronze medal in 2012, the Quebecer climbed to the highest step of the podium in 2013. She fully intended on conserving her title this year.

 The Canadian judoka got her day started with easy victories by ippon over the Israeli Shachar Sagi and the Portuguese Ana Araujo, before facing off against the Spaniard Sara Rodriguez in the semis. Taking on the opponent who denied her of a bronze medal at the last Cadet World Championships, Portuondo Isasi would get her revenge this time around. “I was really nervous, but I managed to score a yuko early on. From there I controlled her by using the same tactics she used against me at the Cadet World Championships.”

 The single yuko was enough for Portuondo Isasi to top the Spaniard, a win that was ultra-satisfying considering the circumstances. “I really stuck to my game plan throughout. Of all my victories today, this is the one I’m most proud of.”

 From there, all that was left standing in her way from a gold medal triumph was the Israeli Raz Rozalya Hershko. “She was really strong physically and I could tell immediately that she was a force on her feet. I was able to throw her, but was unable to roll her onto her back or side. She always fell on her stomach or knees.”

 It was during a counter-attack with a minute remaining that the Quebecoise judoka finally managed to score an ippon. “She was trying to attempt a maneuver but I found a way to counter her and turn her back around. I controlled her on the ground to seal the win.”

 Over in the under 78 kg division, Sophie Vaillancourt claimed a silver medal for the Canadian contingent. In the round robin tourney, she finished with a record of three wins and one loss. The Brit Jodie Myers, unbeaten in four matches, finished 1st, while the Spaniard Lorena Veiga Labrador came away with the bronze medal.

 Léa-Frédéricke Côté (-63 kg), Jaquina Simao (-63 kg), Béatrice Valois-Fortier (-63 kg), Mina Coulombe (-70 kg) and Emily Schaan (-70 kg) all walked away without a classification.

 Krieber-Gagnon wins silver

 On the men’s side, the Dutchman Rico Harder was the only thing keeping Louis Krieber-Gagnon from a gold medal in the under 81 kg class. The Quebecer climbed to the second step of the podium after falling in the grand finale by an ippon. “I made an error and he took full advantage.  On top of that, he was a very fast judoka,” the defending cadet world champion explained.

 The Canadian went into the final having taken down two Dutchman in successive fashion, first Carlos Platier Luna in the quarterfinals followed by Jim Heijman in the semis. “They were both super strong athletes so it was important to come in with a cautious approach,” pointed out the judoka who defeated Platier Luna by a yuko and Heijman by two waza-aris.

The Portuguese judokas Daniel Monteiro and Joao Martinho were Kreiber-Gagnon’s first two victims of the day. The first fell by an ippon, the second by a waza-ari.

 In the same category, Ian Campbell came away with a 7th place finish.  Jonah Burt and Olivier Gobeil St-Amand were unable to receive a classification.

 Canada finished the tournament in Portugal with an impressive haul of five medals, good for 2nd overall in the nation standings.