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Kelita Zupancic takes Pan Am Games title for Canada

14 Jul 2015 03:15

 Judo Canada / judo news, results and photos
70 Kelita Zupancic

For the first time since the beginning of the judo competitions at the Toronto Pan-American Games, the Canadian anthem could be heard, thanks to Kelita Zupancic, gold medallist in the Under 70kg class. Stéfanie Tremblay also contributed to the Canadian medal haul and won Canada’s fourth silver medal.

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.”

Last April, Zupancic 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.

Triple World Champion Yuri Alvear (COL) won the bronze after her loss in the semi final against Cortes.

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, Tremblay 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.”

Brazil's Mariana Silva and Maylin Del Toro Carvajal of Cuba won the bronze.

Never before Ecuador won a gold medal at the Pan American Games, but in this 2015 edition they won two, first by Lenin Preciado, now by Estefania Garcia. A tremendous success for Ecuador.

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  • Estefania Garcia (ECU) - © From internet, no source
  • Kelita Zupancic (CAN) - Grand Prix Düsseldorf (2015, GER) - © IJF Media Team, International Judo Federation

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