Kelita Zupancic claims gold and top spot in her class

Monday, May 6, 2013

Montreal, May 5, 2013 - The Ontarian judoka Kelita Zupancic had a perfect day, Sunday, paving the way to a gold medal at the Baku Grand Slam in Azerbaijan. The victory was an important one, as it pushed her into first overall in the International Judo Federation standings, in the under 70 kg category.

Zupancic, who was placed third in the international standings before the competition, won all three of her bouts en route to gold. She began her day by beating the German Barbara Bandel (62nd) with a waza-ari. In the semi-finals, she took care of business against the Swiss judoka Juliane Robra (24th), winning by ippon at the 3 min 53 second mark.

In the finals, she made even quicker work of the 6th ranked German Laura Vargas Koch, defeating her with an ippon just 1:36 into the contest. “I felt good when I woke up this morning and it really showed on the tatami, Zupancic pointed out. I just did what I’ve been doing all year long, and it definitely paid off.”

The win rocketed the Ontarian to the top of the standings in her class, after she began the year back in 15th place overall.

“It’s really a cool feeling being in first, it’s incredible, the judoka exclaimed. I’ve been working so hard to get to this level, and now I’m going to try even harder to stay. I don’t feel any kind of pressure in particular, I’m just going to focus on the formula that got me here.”

In the under 78 kg division, Catherine Roberge (7th) and Amy Cotton (8th) both fought in bronze medal bouts. In the end, Roberge was the only Canadian to come away victorious, elevating her to the third step of the podium in the process.

Roberge beat the Russian Alena Kachorovskaya (65th) while Cotton fell to the Croat Ivana Maranic (37th).

Before reaching the bronze medal match, Roberge and Cotton both had won their first bouts before dropping their second. Roberge managed to win in just 23 seconds, taking down the Turk Yilmaz Nazmiye with an ippon. It was the German Luis Malzahn (13th) that would bring her back down to earth, beating the Quebecoise in her second fight of the day.

As for Cotton, she started off by taking out the Russian Alena Kachorovskaya, before falling by ippon to the 9th ranked judoka in the under 78 kg class, the Hungarian Abigel Joo.

On the men’s side, it was a short outing for the defending Olympic bronze medalist Antoine Valois-Fortier in the 81 kg category. Currently classed 4th overall, the Quebecer was upset in his very first bout, falling to the local favourite Rustam Alimli, who sits 167th in the standings.

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