Canada’s Priscilla Gagne and Justin Karn put in perfect performances on Sunday (20 May) at their home International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Judo Pan-American Championships in Calgary.
With their twin records of three wins and no losses, they were crowned champions of the women’s -52kg and men’s -60kg, respectively.
“I’m very happy! It was so exciting because Justin also won gold. It was really incredible!” said Gagne. She claimed the gold medal after beating all her opponents by ippon, the first of whom was the USA’s Marissa Arndt.
Gagne then defeated Brazil’s Karla Cadoso, who went on to win silver, and Argentina’s Rocio Silvana Ledesma, who took bronze.
“This was really important to me personally. It also boosted my confidence for the Tokyo Paralympic qualifiers [2018 IBSA Judo World Championships] that will take place this fall,” she explained.
Gagne’s coach Andrzej Sadej added: “She had three competitors and beat them all by ippon. She even fought against a former Paralympic medallist from Brazil [Cardoso], whom she quickly beat by ippon. It was impressive.”
Despite difficult circumstances in his personal life, Karn also managed to secure the gold medal. “It’s been an emotional rollercoaster, not only because my father passed away last week, but also because my wife and I lost our son last year and I had lost my grandmother just a few months before that.
“It’s very special. We’ve been waiting for this event for the last two years. With all the challenges that I’ve faced, it’s a tremendous accomplishment.”
Sadej said: “Just the fact that he was able to overcome all those difficult events makes me very proud of him.”
Karn beat Argentina’s David Emanuel Gomez, Mexico’s Bryam Gerardo Aburto and Brazil’s Thiago Silva, all by ippon. Silva went on to win the silver medal while Aburto claimed the bronze.
Also in action for Canada was Stephane Gignac, who lost his two preliminary round bouts in the men’s -81kg.
He was defeated by Argentina’s Jose David Effron, who later won the silver medal, and the USA’s Adnan Gutic, who nabbed a bronze. Mexico’s Eduardo Adrian Avila Sanchez was the victor.
Aside from the Canadian performances, Brazilian judokas put in impressive performances to take seven of the remaining ten wins.
Lucia Araujo, a Rio 2016 Paralympic silver medallist in the women’s -57kg, claimed victory in the -63kg.
Araujo has made a successful transition to the higher weight category, securing a podium finish at the IBSA Judo World Cup in April. This time was no different.
She won both her bouts against Argentina’s silver medallist Nadia Agostina Boggiano Alegre and the USA’s bronze medal winning Cindy Simon.
Maria Lins claimed the top spot in the women’s -57kg after pipping Argentina’s Laura Candela Gonzalez in their decider with a waza-ari.
Four-time Paralympic champion Antonio Tenorio took his latest win in the men’s -100kg after a double hansoku-make from the USA’s Benjamin Goodrich in their two matches.
There was a podium double for Brazil in the women’s +70kg with Rebeca Silva and Meg Emmerich taking first and second, respectively. The USA’s Katie Davies was third.
Luan Pimental posted a 100 per cent winning record in the men’s -73kg on his way to gold, including two ippons. Argentina’s Rodolfo Fabian Ramirez lost just one of his fights – to Pimental – to take silver. The USA’s Robert Alcorn completed the top three.
Wilians Araujo went uncontested in the men’s -100kg, winning by default.
Arthur Silva rounded off Brazil’s gold-medal haul in the men’s -90kg. A double ippon over Mexico’s Brayan Mizael Valencia Preciado, the eventual silver medallist, saw him ease to first place.
Mexico, Argentina and Puerto Rico emerge victorious
Mexican Paralympic champion Lenia Ruvalcaba showed no signs of slowing down in the women’s -70kg. Her double win over the USA’s Rio 2016 bronze medallist Christella Garcia saw her climb onto the top of the podium once again.
Argentina’s Paulian Karina Gomez took gold in the women’s -48kg, beating Brazil’s Luiza Oliano by ippon in both of their fights.
Puerto Rico’s Luis Perez aced the men’s -66kg, winning all three of his bouts. Argentina’s Eduardo Gauto was second and the USA’s Robert Kim was third.
Around 50 athletes from six countries competed in Calgary on their road to the 2018 IBSA Judo World Championships in Lisbon, Portugal, from 16-18 November.
Full results are available at Judo Canada’s website.