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Kelita Zupancic wins bronze in Düsseldorf

Montréal, February 21, 2015 – The Ontarian Kelita Zupancic walked away with a 3rd place finish, Saturday, at the Düsseldorf Grand Prix of Judo, presented in Germany. Quebecer Antoine Valois-Fortier also performed well, narrowly missing the podium with a 5th place classification.

Zupancic, who currently sits 4th in the world standings at -70 kg, began her day with victories over the American Samantha Bleier (95th) by an ippon, and the 23rd rated Chinese Chen Fei by a waza-ari.

In the quarterfinals, the Ontarian succumbed to defeat versus the 13th ranked Japanese, Chizuru Arai, by an ippon. The latter would go on to the gold medal finale where she claimed top honours.

As for Zupancic, she continued on through to the repechage where she defeated the Turk Sukran Bakacak (64th) by an ippon. The win set up a world-class tilt with the 2nd ranked judoka Laura Vargas Koch, but due to the German’s subsequent forfeit, the bronze medal was awarded to the Canadian.

“Things went fairly well for Kelita. Despite her injury, she was able to take down the American and Chinese judokas in the early rounds thanks to some strong ground work,” Canadian coach Jérémy Le Bris explained.

“Kelita wasn’t aggressive enough against the Japanese, and was subsequently caught off guard by some rear manoeuvres. She managed to refocus and come back strong in the repechage,” he added.

As for Antoine Valois-Fortier, the Québecer (-81 kg) lost by an ippon in the bronze medal match to the 8th ranked German Sven Maresch.

The 24-year-old, currently ranked 2nd overall in his category, defeated the Czech Jaromir Musil (56th) by a yuko in his first bout. He then went on to beat the Russian Stanislav Semenov (39th) by virtue of penalties.

Up against the Belgian Joachim Bottieau in the quarterfinals, Valois-Fortier succumbed to defeat, losing narrowly by a penalty. In the repechage, he got the better of the Belorussian Aliaksandr Stsiashenka (26th).

“Antoine won his fights due to excellent conditioning and good posture. Against the Belgian, who ended up impressively beating all three of the top judokas in the world, the match came down to a single penalty, which came very late on,” Le Bris pointed out.

“In the 3rd place fight Antoine took on Maresch, the type of judoka that has troubled him in the past because he’s small, cagey and very physical. The German ended up winning the match by controlling the kumikata.”

In the under 73 kg class, the Quebecer Étienne Briand lost by an ippon in his first bout to the Azerbaijani Huseyn Rahimli.

In the same category, Arthur Margelidon was also eliminated in the first round. The Montrealer lost his match against the American Everet Desilets by an ippon.