Toronto, July 13, 2015 – For the first time since the beginning of the judo competitions at the Toronto Pan-American Games, the Canadian anthem could be heard during the podium ceremony on Monday night, at the Mississauga Sports Centre, and it was all thanks to Kelita Zupancic, gold medallist in the Under 70kg class. Stéfanie Tremblay also contributed to the medal haul and climbed onto the second step of the podium.
The final match pitted Zupancic, 5th in the world, against Cuban Onix Cortes Aldama, ranked 25th in the world. The Canadian athlete managed to pin her opponent to the ground, immobilize her, and score an ippon in the last minute of the match. “I did good ground work, with quick transitions. Everything seems like it’s coming together, it feels so good!,” rejoiced Zupancic, who appreciated the support from the crowd at the Mississauga Sports Centre. “It helped me keep my momentum.”
It isn’t the first time the Whitby, Ontario athlete has made it to the highest step of the podium this year – last April, she snatched the gold at the Pan-American Championships of Edmonton.
In the semi-final, Zupancic defeated Brazil’s Maria Portela with two yukos, when the Brazilian, 19th in the world, only had one. In the match before that, she disposed of Ecuador’s Vanessa Chala with an ippon. “The goal was to get the medal, so there wasn’t a less or more satisfying way to win,” she said.
In the Under 63kg final, Stéfanie Tremblay, 58th in the world, was up against Ecuador’s Estefania Garcia, 19th. With only one penalty separating the two judokas, the Saguenay native had to content herself with the silver medal.
“I’ve beaten her before, so obviously I wanted the victory,” said Tremblay. “It was a close match and the penalty could have gone to either of us, so it’s a bit difficult to finish the tournament on this note.”
Earlier in the competition, the Quebec athlete had a series of ippon victories over her first three opponents. The first ippon she dished out was in the match against Argentina’s Gimena Laffeuillade, ranked 158th. After that, she disposed of Cuba’s Maylin Del Toro Carvajal, 30th, in the quarter-final, and Brazil’s Mariana Silva, 11th, in the semi-final.
“It’s been a pretty good day and I beat some pretty good opponents in the quarter- and semi-final,” added the silver medallist. “It confirms that I am up to par and that’s good news. I’ve had a great season and I feel more and more confident.”
On the men’s side, Zachary Burt, 67th in the world, came in fifth, defeated in the fight for the bronze by Colombian Pedro Castro, ranked 74th.
In his first bout of the tournament, the Ontario athlete eliminated Chilean Rodrigo Idro, but then went on to succumb to Cuban Ivan Felipe Silva Morales, 39th. In repechage, he defeated Mexican Yusef Farah and made it to the bronze medal match.
“Overall, I had good fights, but I need to be more careful not to make mistakes,” explained the Oshawa athlete. “I started out a bit slow, so I need to make sure to be more concentrated in the future.”
His brother, Jonah Burt, was eliminated from the competition in his first bout, against Chile’s Rafael Romo.
Tuesday will be the last day of judo competitions at the Pan-Ams. This time, Catherine Roberge (Under 78kg), Marc Deschênes (Under 100kg) and Martin Rygielski (Over 100kg) will be stepping on the tatami.
Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada
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