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First Grand Slam podium finish for Patrick Gagné

Montréal, October 31, 2014 – Quebecois judoka Patrick Gagné came away with his first ever podium finish at a Grand Slam event, Friday, claiming a bronze medal in the under 66 kg class at the tournament presented in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

“Looking back, considering that I fell behind in my opening bout, things could have turned out a lot differently! But in the end it went really well. It’s the biggest result of my career, and it will give me a lot of points towards my Olympic qualification. I don’t think I could be much happier than I am today (Friday),” the judoka exclaimed.

The Longueuil-native, currently ranked 21st in his category, came away with the bronze medal after defeating the 63rd ranked Slovenian Adrian Gomboc by a waza-ari in the 3rd place match.

“He’s a kid who was able to knock off the No. 1 seeded judoka. He was having a really good day, and he was definitely a very solid athlete,” Gagné pointed out. “I was losing on penalties, but I managed to pull off a really big maneuver with around two minutes left in the match. From there I did a good job of managing the fight right till the end.”

In the prelims, Gagné recorded victories by ippon against the Portuguese Sergiu Oleinic (54th) and the North Korean Song Chol Hyon (81th). He then went on to drop his quarterfinals tilt to the Russian Alim Gadanov, ranked 12th in the world.

“He sort of has my number. It’s not the first time that he’s beaten me. Still, compared to our last fight, this one was a pretty tight affair. He scored a waza-ari and I just wasn’t able to come from behind. He’s really balanced and solid on his feet, and he just did a good job of closing off any of my attacks,” said Gagné, who would recover from the loss by taking down the Belorussian Vae Tutkhalian (197th) in the repechage.

Elsewhere, Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard, ranked 12th in the world in the under 57 kg division, finished the competition with a 5th place classification. After benefitting from a first round bye, the Quebecoise came away victorious versus the Kosovar Nora Gjakova (44th) in her opening bout.

In the quarterfinals, Beauchemin-Pinard succumbed to defeat by a waza-ari versus the Portuguese Telma Monteiro, 8th judoka in the world and runner-up at the last World Championships.

The judoka from Longueuil still managed to qualify for the bronze medal fight, thanks to a win in the repechage over the 6th ranked judoka and defending Olympic bronze medalist, the American Marti Malloy. In her final bout, Beauchemin-Pinard fell to the Romanian Corina Caprioriu, 10th best in the world as well as an Olympic silver medalist.

Finally, Ecaterina Guica was eliminated in the second round of the under 52 kg category, where she finished in 9th. Ranked 42nd in the world, the Quebecoise began her day with a win over the Slovenian Petra Nareks (23rd) by a waza-ari.

Guica would then go on to lose by an ippon to two-time defending world champion, the Kosovar Majlinda Kelmendi. Later on in the day, the latter would go on to claim the gold medal after defeating the Romanian Andreea Chitu in the finale.

The competition will continue on through to Sunday in Abu Dhabi. Quebecers Arthur Margelidon (- 73 kg), Alexis Morin-Martel (- 73 kg) and Antoine Valois-Fortier (- 81 kg), as well as the Ontarian Kelita Zupancic (- 70 kg) will be the Canadians to watch.