Two Canadian athletes stood on the podium Saturday at the Hong Kong Asian Open. Jacob Valois had a perfect day and was the crowned champion in U66kg, and Hakim Chala won a bronze medal during his second international senior tournament in U60kg.
Valois, from Boucherville, claimed emerged victorious from his finale with an ippon against South Korean Han Jaegwang.
“It’s my first gold medal during an international senior competition, and my first one in Asia!” he said. “It gives me international points, but it mostly shows I’m ready to step up to the next level, and participate in more Grand Prix and Grand Slams. I’ll stay in this category for at least five years, so I’m off to a very, very good start.”
In the semifinal, Valois defeated Polish Patryk Wawrzyczek by waza-ari, and won both his preliminary-round bouts against Huang Sheng-Ting from Taipei and Australian Nathan Katz by ippon. Valois was satisfied with his performance throughout the day. He says the strategy he has developed during the last few months with his coach is to thank for his improvement.
“I made some changes in my grip position. At first it was hard for me, but my coach was convinced it was the right thing to do, and today, we had the confirmation he was right.”
China won two gold medals, both in the women’s tournament, with Yang Junxia continuing on her form; adding a gold in Hong Kong U63kg to her tally after winning gold in The Hague in November. Xiong Yao took gold U48kg. It was an all Mongolian final U52kg between Sosorbaram Lkhagvasuren and Khorloodoi Bishrelt won by Lkhagvasuren.
The home crowd cheered for Po Sum Leung of Hong Kong. She won the gold in her class U57kg.
Taipei started strong in the men’s U60kg weightclass with gold for Yung Wei Yang against Joshua Katz (AUS). Somon Makhmadbekov captured gold in the final U73kg against Daichi Tanaka.