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European Cup – Kelita Zupancic wins silver in spite of injury

Montréal, February 15, 2015 (Sportcom) Canadian judoka Kelita Zupancic came away with a silver medal on Sunday, at the European Open of Oberwart, presented in Austria. Her only loss of the day came in the grand finale against the Austrian Bernadette Graf.


“I wasn’t in great shape today,” mentioned the Canadian judoka, who’s been battling through an injury for the past two weeks. “On top of that, I had an allergic reaction to my energy drinks and I wasn’t feel very good at all.”


“Taking into account my overall health, I did the best I could today. You can’t be in perfect form every time out, and as an athlete, injuries are just something you learn to live with.”


Despite it all, the Ontarian still managed to claim a podium finish. “Coming away with a medal for Canada is always my goal.”


In the gold medal match, Graf, ranked 5th in the world, came on strong at the end of the bout and scored a match-clinching ippon. Zupancic had been leading at that point by one penalty to two.


“Our fights are always really close,” the 3rd ranked Zupancic added.


According to Kelita Zupancic’s coach Jérémy Le Bris, the Ontarian competed like a champion all day long.


“Considering the shape she was in today, she put together a great performance. She managed to win matches despite it all. That’s what champions do. She was already at a disadvantage to start with because, due to the injury, she was unable to train the last few days. It’s months of preparation on the international circuit and just grinding out wins, that sets the table for performances like these,” he pointed out.  


“In the finale, Kelita managed the kumikata portions of the bout very well. She was quietly leading a very close, controlled fight. With about 15 seconds left in the contest, she took a risk on a grapple in tight, and got countered. She fell on her backside. There’s usually no points awarded for falling on your bum, but the judges decided to give her opponent an advantage. Kelita kind of let up at that point, which resulted in her being taken down on the ground. The judges, however, had cancelled the advantage ruling, which means that Kelita could have won. In the end, it was just a small mental lapse that cost her,” Le Bris explained.


In the semifinals, the Whitby, Ontario native defeated the Angolan Antonia Moreira, ranked 15th in the world.


“The fight was over quickly,” affirned Zupancic, who needed just two minutes to take down her opponent.


Elsewhere, Antoine Valois-Fortier (-81 kg) was eliminated in the prelims at the European Open of Rome presented in Italy, succumbing to defeat at the hands of the Japanese Goki Maruyama in his second fight. The Beauport, Québec product began his day with a win over the Pole Sebastian Przybysz by ippon.


Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada