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Montréal, April 1, 2023 – While Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard and François Gauthier-Drapeau both won bronze medals at the Antalya Grand Slam in Turkey today, their experiences on the tatamis could not have been more different. While Beauchemin-Pinard had to dig deep to reach her goal in the under-63 kg weight class, Gauthier-Drapeau sailed smoothly to the third spot on the podium in the under-81 kg division.

“It’s been a weird day! I’ve been struggling since I got up this morning. My motivation was lacking, so I just focused on fighting with all of my strength,” admitted Beauchemin-Pinard, who nevertheless kept her difficulties well-hidden during the bronze medal final.

The Québécoise controlled most of her bout against Lubjana Piovesana of Austria, taking advantage of an opening in the fourth and final minute to pin her rival to the ground and win by ippon.

“I know her pretty well, and I also beat her in Paris in February. I knew she could be dangerous, and she caught me off-guard with her first grip. After that, I made sure to follow my game plan to the letter. I knew it would pay off,” explained Beauchemin-Pinard as she left the podium.

“I could see that the longer the fight went on, the more she was struggling. I just let things happen, and eventually, an opportunity to attack presented itself. I made a good transition on the ground, I steadied my upper body and I was able to immobilize her for 20 seconds to win.”

Earlier in the day, the Tokyo bronze medallist won all three of her fights, two of them in overtime. In the semi-final, however, fatigue got the better of Beauchemin-Pinard and she bowed out to Ketleyn Quadros of Brazil by ippon. Quadros later won gold.

“I really wasn’t in top form today (Saturday), and it showed in my fight against Quadros. I had a hard time pushing myself, and I wasn’t able to fight at my usual level against her,” added the reigning runner-up world champion and second-ranked judoka in her weight division.

“Fortunately, I was able to move on from that for my final fight, so overall, it was positive,” she said. “It showed me that even on a bad day, I can still get onto the podium. It was a good mental challenge, which will certainly serve me well at the World Championships in Qatar in May.”

Sweet comeback for Gauthier-Drapeau

As for François Gauthier-Drapeau, he had only one thing on his mind on Saturday morning: To end the day in the top three once again, after a disappointing finish last weekend in Tbilisi, Georgia. Gauthier-Drapeau did not let his opportunity go to waste. He ended the day on the third step of the podium, thanks to a victory over Sharofiddin Boltaboev of Uzbekistan in the bronze medal final.

“I feel like I got last weekend back. I would have been really disappointed to go home without a medal, so I’m really happy with my performance. It feels great!” said the Canadian, at the end of the day.

In his fifth and final bout, Gauthier-Drapeau was indomitable against Boltaboev, who had defeated the Québécois in the bronze medal final at the Paris Grand Slam in 2022. This time, Gauthier-Drapeau won in overtime, but not in the way he would have liked.

“I countered him in the middle of the fight, and I could tell he hurt his leg. Things were going well for me, and he wanted to continue despite his injury. We went all the way into overtime, but it became too painful for him and he had to give up,” explained the Canadian.

“It’s a bit unfortunate to win that way. It doesn’t feel the same. But I fought well, and I need to focus on the positive aspects of my win.”

For the judoka from Alma, today’s bronze medal was the third in his last four Grand Slam tournaments.

Gauthier-Drapeau’s only defeat of the day took place in the quarter-final, when he was beaten by Alpha Oumar Djalo of France after more than 10 minutes of combat. Djalo later won the other bronze medal.

“By the end of it, we were fighting like dogs. My strategy was completely different from his, and I tried every possible technique, but I wasn’t able to end the fight. I kept my intensity level high, but in the end, it went his way,” added Gauthier-Drapeau, who made sure to finish the day on a high note by defeating Jose Maria Mendiola of Spain and Boltaboev in his subsequent matches.

“Today, I could really feel the fire in my belly. I wanted to make up for last week. Now, I’ll be able to focus on preparing for my second World Championships. I’ve beaten some big names in the past few weeks, and I feel like I’m carving out a spot for myself among the top judokas. My wins have really boosted my confidence. I’m looking forward to showing what I can do in Doha,” he concluded.

Also in action on Saturday were Arthur Margelidon (1-1) and Antoine Bouchard (0-1), both in the under-73 kg division. Neither of the Canadians ranked. Mohab ElNahas (under-81 kg) was eliminated in the first round.

The Antalya Grand Slam will conclude on Sunday with competitions in the five remaining weight classes. In the under-100 kg group, world champion runner-up Kyle Reyes will hit the tatamis, along with his teammate Shady ElNahas.

Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada

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