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Eleven Podiums for Canada in Argentina

Montreal, July 1, 2016 – Canadian judokas had quite a fruitful day this Friday at the Cadet Pan American Championships in Cordoba, Argentina. The first day of the competition brought the country a total of eleven medals.

“It’s been a great day for our country,” rejoiced national junior and cadet coach, Jean-Pierre Cantin, very satisfied with his team’s performance.

Benjamin Kendrick (Under 81 kg), Camelia Pitsilis (Under 57 kg) and Maria Carla Chirila (Under 70 kg) led the national delegation to top of the podium in their respective weight classes.

“Benjamin, Camelia and Maria Carla were highly strategic the entire day, and that made all the difference,” explained Cantin. “They managed to act under pressure and find solutions to difficult situations, and that is what makes a true champion. The three of them are very physically powerful too, which definitely tips the scale in major fights.”

Camelia Pitsilis logged a perfect record, with four wins in the Under 57 kg. The Longueil athlete defeated Uruguay’s Elizabet Vecino, Peru’s Maria Mejia and Brazil’s Vitoria Andrade on her way to the finals. In the fight for the gold, it took her a mere 49 seconds to dispose of Ecuador’s Daphne Echanique with an ippon.

Montreal’s Maria Carla Chirila also had a flawless record in the Under 70 kg, with victories over Ecuadorian Edith Ortiz, Brazilian Giovanna Fontes and Chilean Mackarenna Figueroa.

Yumi Amal Bellali (Under 48 kg) and Taeya Koliaska (Under 52 kg) added a silver medal each to Canada’s haul. Bellali, from Pointe-Claire, won three matches before losing to Brazil’s Larissa Pimenta in the finals.

Koliaska, from Lethbridge, Alberta, won her first two bouts, but then was also kept from a gold medal by a Brazilian, Maria Taba, who took home the gold after scoring an ippon in the finals.

Nanaimo, BC’s Alicia Fiandor walked away with a bronze. After losing her semi-final match to Brazilian Gabriella Moraes, she defeated Chilean Kathleen Jara in the fight for the bronze.

Albertan Virginia Nemeth (Under 48 kg) and Quebecker Lea Roy (Under 44 kg) both finished the competition in fifth place.

Flawless day for Benjamin Kendrick

On the men’s side, Benjamin Kendrick also won top honours, in the Under 81 kg, but not without a series of rather tight matches. After an ippon victory over Colombia’s Santiago Azcarate in the quarterfinals, the Ontario athlete beat Brazilian Igor Morishigue in the semi-finals by only one penalty. In the final match, after the four minutes ticked off the clock, Argentinian Ivo Dargoltz had two penalties to his name, against Kendrick’s one, which landed the Canadian on the highest step of the podium.

Mathieu Bouchard and Idir Mazouzi, from Quebec, and Kaegan Young, from Ontario, all got their hands on silver medals after losing to Brazilians in the finals.

Bouchard succumbed to Jeferson Santos Junior, in the Under 66 kg; Mazouzi lost the Under 90 kg final bout to Arthur Caldeira; and Young was kept from the Under 55 kg gold by Renan Torres.

Manitoba’s Damien Ekosky (Under 73 kg) and Ontario’s Aidos Sapenov (Under 50 kg) rounded out the Canadian medal haul with a bronze each.

Also representing Canada were Luka Khatelishvili, from Ontario, who came in fifth in the Under 81 kg, and Malcom Pelletier, from New Brunswick, who didn’t rank in the Under 55 kg.

On Saturday, the country’s junior-aged judokas will be stepping on the Cordoba Pan American Championships mats.