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Montréal, August 3, 2023 (Sportcom) – There were attacks from multiple sides, but in the end, David Popovici got the last word – and the gold! – in the Under 81k class Thursday at the Jeux de la francophonie. Isabelle Harris also earned herself a silver medal today, stepping up to the second step of the podium in the Under 63 k category.

Popovici took on France’s Jean-Thierry Gnamien in the final at the Stade Tata Raphaël in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. It was a hotly contested bout that forced the judokas into overtime.

“In the final, I worked out a strategy with my coach (Sasha Mehmedovic) to try and impose the grip I wanted, and make my opponent uncomfortable. I was expecting a tough fight, so I tried to bring out my intensity against my opponent from start to finish,” explained David Popovici, bronze medalist in Lima, two weeks ago.

On a few occasions late in the fight, Gnamien tried to upset the Canadian, but failed to make good on his attempts. Popovici waited for the right moment and managed to throw his opponent to the ground, scoring a waza-ari. The win required judges to view a video replay during a long consultation.

“I’m really happy to win gold! The final was a rather long and difficult fight, and I’m really glad I pushed hard to win. I’m proud to win gold at the Jeux de la Francophonie, it’s a very important international competition that only takes place every four years.”

The Montréaler scored three convincing victories on his way to the ultimate showdown. Popovici began the day that would earn him gold with an Ippon win over Ganiy Olayilo Babatounde (Benin), then moved on to defeating José Diakanua Jose (Democratic Republic of Congo), then, he took on and defeated Josué Pellet (Congo) in the semi-final duel.

“Thinking about the games, I was aiming for a medal here, but above all I wanted to fight well and impose my style of judo,” he summed up, proud of his competition.

Another medal for Isabelle Harris

Silver medallist at the Pan-American Open in Lima a mere two weeks ago, Isabelle Harris followed up with yet another success in Kinshasa with a silver medal in the Under 63 kg category.

Harris stepped onto the tatami against France’s Rania Drid in the grand final. The Canadian quickly tried to impose her rhythm on the ground, but Drid resisted every attempt, and the latter scored a waza-ari with just over 30 seconds to go, maintaining her lead until the very end.

“It was good to win my semi-final, but I’m a little disappointed to have missed out on the gold,” she admitted after the medal ceremony. “I’m still happy to finish on the podium though, I loved the Jeux de la Francophonie experience, the crowd was really upbeat!”

Earlier in the day, Harris defeated Congo’s Agneau Falonne Kimfoko Massoko and Senegal’s Anna Siga Faye to reach the finals in her weight class.

“I felt ready for the final, and was very focused on my plan for the it. I think I put up a good fight, but she got me with a waza-ari towards the end.”

Also in action on the tatami for Canada, Justin Lemire (- 73 kg) won his first duel by ippon against Clevest Brian Shawn Foolchand (Mauritius). Lemire then lost to Romania’s Ioan Dzitac, and again to Kosovo’s Dardan Cena, putting an end to the Canuck judoka’s competition progress.

Judo fans and followers will recall that last Friday Julien Frascadore won gold in the Under 66 kg category, while Charlyse Isabelle Medilo (- 48 kg) and Evelyn Beaton (- 52 kg) both won bronze medals.

Four more Canadians will step onto the tatami at the Jeux de la Francophonie this Friday: Alexandre Arencibia (-90 kg) and John Jr Messé A Bisson (+100 kg), Laurence Biron (-70 kg) and Coralie Godbout (-78 kg).

Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada

For more information:

Patrick Esparbès
Chief Operating Officer
Judo Canada
(514) 668-6279