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Monika Burgess finishes 5th in South Korea

Montréal, November 28,2014 (Sportcom) – Canadian judoka Monika Burgess came away with a 5th place classification in the under 70 kg class, Friday, at the Jeju Grand Prix presented in South Korea.

“It was a good day for Monika. There’s a lot to look forward to for her,” women’s national team coach Jeremy Le Bris explained.

The Ontario-born judoka who trains in Montréal got her day going with a win against the South Korean Lee Hye-Sun. Burgess, currently ranked 53rd in the world, was aggressive throughout, distinguishing herself with two yukos in the fight. “The Korean never came close to putting Monika in any danger,” Le Bris pointed out.

Burgess then went on to defeat the 24th ranked Spaniard, Maria Bernabeu, by an ippon. “Bernabeu caught Monika off guard early by scoring a yuko, but she quickly regained her composure by throwing her opponent to ground for a waza-ari,” Le Bris iterated. “The contest ended on the ground, with a maneuver that only Monika knows how to pull off.”

In the quarterfinals, the 19-year-old judoka served up the same medicine to the Israeli Lior Wildikan, ranked 23rd in the world. “The Israeli is very crafty in her counter-attacks. In the opening action of the contest, she threw herself on Monika in an attempt to counter her, but Monika defended it well enough, scoring a yuko in the process. A few sequences later the Israeli made the same mistake, but this time Monika made her pay the price in full, controlling her throw perfectly for the match-winning ippon.”

Thanks to a an impressive three victories out of the gate, Monika Burgess found herself in the semifinals up against the No. 2 judoka in the world, German Laura Vargas Koch. The latter would come away with a win by ippon. “Vargas won the match after disengaging from a hold on the ground. It’s too bad because, in a standing position, Monika was right there with her.”

Back on the tatami for the bronze medal match, The Canadian took on the Moroccan Assmaa Niang, ranked 8th in the world. Neither of the two combatants was able to score in the four minutes of allotted time, so the fight came down to penalties issued. Burgess, who received two, ended up coming in second-best, with Niang only taking one penalty in the contest.

“Niang is an opponent who’s usually very physical and aggressive early on in fights,” Jérémy Le Bris explained. “After about a minute and a half, the Moroccan ran out of gas. Monika really turned on the offense from that point on, but it wasn’t enough.”

Even though her strong efforts didn’t produce a podium finish on Friday, Le Bris more than recognized the work put in by his protégé. “She continues to gain experience and beat athletes rated in the top-25, globally. I don’t think it will be long before she begins to beat top-10 judokas as well,” the coach affirmed. “She just needs that little something extra to turn those near losses into wins.”

On the men’s side, Arthur Margelidon was eliminated in his opening bout in the under 73 kg category. The Montrealer, ranked 43rd in the world, succumbed to defeat versus the Spaniard Kiyoshi Uematsu (33rd).

“It was a bad day for me,” admitted the Quebecois judoka, who took two penalties. “I could have easily avoided those penalties, and regardless of the fact that my opponent was a seasoned pro, I could have done better against him.”

“Arthur is pretty disappointed, because he knows he didn’t give his best effort,” Jeremy Le Bris added. “He wasn’t able to find that chink in the armor to put his opponent in any danger, and he ended up letting the Spaniard control the fight’s tempo too easily.”

Saturday will mark the last day of competition at the Jeju Grand Prix, with Canadians Ana Laura Portuondo Isasi (-78 kg) and Kyle Reyes (-100 kg) showcasing their skills on the tatamis.