Montreal, June 13, 2015 – Canadian judokas Antoine Bouchard, Étienne Briand and Arthur Margelidon all faced early eliminations this Saturday at the Budapest Grand Prix, in Hungary.
“We could have won the fights we lost,” admitted Michel Almeida, assistant coach for the national men’s team. “They were close. There wasn’t such a big difference in level between the competitors.”
Antoine Bouchard, in the Under 66kg, was the only Canadian athlete to win a match on Saturday.
The Saguenay native, ranked 16th in the world, beat China’s Erchaogetu Amu by three yuko. “It was a very one-sided match,” said Bouchard. “He never threatened me and I was in control the entire time.”
The Quebec athlete’s next fight was against Portuguese Sergiu Oleinic, 35th in the world, who stopped Bouchard on his tracks with an ippon. “This one was harder,” admitted the 20-year-old. “He had a good grip on my left sleeve and I didn’t find a way to adapt. It wasn’t my best fight.” Determined to come up with solutions for upcoming competitions, he said, “I have to find a better grip strategy so I can carve myself more opportunities during matches.”
In the Under 73kg class, Arthur Margelidon and Étienne Briand were both eliminated in their first matches.
In his fight against Kazakhstan’s Yertugan Torenov, 44th in the world, Margelidon was leading the match with two penalties against one, until Torenov managed to score a waza-ari.
“20 seconds to the end, he got a counterattack in and I didn’t have time to bounce back,” said the Montreal native, ranked 30th in the world.
“He is absolutely within my league. If I had managed the combat better, I would have won. I know I can deliver a good performance – all I have to do is hone those final moments, and I will be able to break through to the next stage in the competition.”
For Étienne Briand, 39th, elimination came in the form of three penalties in the match against Turkey’s Hasan Vanlioglu, 38th, who was penalized twice. “I should have been more aggressive at the beginning,” said the Sept-Îles native. “And I shouldn’t have let the penalties set me back.”
“My opponent was very tactical in this fight. He started out strong and forced a penalty on me. But all in all, I think that it was a tight match, and that the referees were pretty strict. I didn’t get a lot of chances to throw him.”
“There were quite a few mistakes and not many successful moves today,” added Almeida. “Next week will be a lot of work. We’re going to concentrate on correcting the mistakes we made today, to make sure we’re ready for the next tournament.”
Michel Almeida, who has acted as assistant coach for the men’s team for a month now, is becoming more and more familiar with his athletes. “I’m getting to know them,” he said. “I had time to know them in a training context, but competitions are another thing entirely. It was also a learning experience for me.”
The Canadian judokas will be back on the tatami on June 27 and 28, at the San Salvador Pan-American Open.
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