Hakim Chala et Jacob Valois
Montreal, December 1, 2018 – Two Canadian athletes stood on the podium on Saturday during the Hong Kong Asian Open. Jacob Valois had a perfect day and was the crowned champion in -66 kg, and Hakim Chala won a bronze medal during his second international senior tournament in -60 kg.
Valois, from Boucherville, claimed the victory in the 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 he also 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.”
Hakim Chala ended the tournament with a surprise. After winning by ippon after only 27 seconds against Australian Bryan Jolly in repechage, the Montrealer decided to take a nap before his bronze-medal fight.
“I had about 3 hours to kill. I had already planned my strategy against Soukphazay Sithisane, from Laos. I had watched his fights, and I felt confident. Jacob woke me up and told me, ‘Hakim, you’ve already won!’ Sithisane was disqualified, because he performed an illegal technique. I was upset the fight wouldn’t happen, but it’s my first medal during an international senior IJF tournament!”
During the preliminary rounds, Chala defeated Syahrul Ramadhani, from Indonesia, and Lee Yuk Ting, from Hong Kong, before losing against Australian Joshua Katz, who climbed up to the second place in the final ranking.
“I won my first two bouts by ippon pretty easily. I lost against Katz for many reasons. I had several chances to attack, but I couldn’t execute my techniques until the end. I was dominating at first, but I made a mistake on the ground,” explained the judoka.
Marie Besson (-52 kg) ranked in 5th place in her category. She lost by ippon against Chinese Chen Chen during the bronze-medal bout. In the semifinal, the Montrealer also lost by ippon, this time against Mongolian Khorloodoi Bishrelt, who went on to win the silver medal. Besson scored 2 victories in the preliminary rounds.
Camélia Pitsilis (-57 kg) ended in 7th place. After one victory and one loss in the preliminaries, she was eliminated in repechage. Thai Yuriko Warasiha won by ippon and stood on the third step of the podium at the end of the day.
Sierra Tanner and Alicia Fiandor, in -63 kg, and Warren Seib and Max Teeuwen, in -73 kg, didn’t get a ranking.
On Sunday, Mina Coulombe (-78 kg), François Gauthier-Drapeau (-81 kg), Alexandre Arencibia (-81 kg), Benjamin Kendrick (-90 kg), Luka Khatelishvili (-90 kg), Kevin Gauthier (+100 kg), and Joe Casey Andres (+100 kg) will be on the mats.
Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada
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