TORONTO (August 12, 2015) – Priscilla Gagné of Ottawa won the silver medal and gained valuable qualifying points for next summer’s Paralympic Games on Wednesday in judo for the visually impaired at the Parapan American Games.
Competing in women’s 52 kilo class, Gagné posted a record of three wins and one loss in the round robin tournament. Her only loss was a tight second match defeat by two Shidos to Brazil’s Michele Ferreira. The Brazilian went on to win gold with a perfect 4-0 mark.
Gagné defeated Christina Thomas of the U.S., by Ippon in a mere 20 seconds as well as Andreia Canteiro of Brazil and Rocio Ledesma of Argentina, also both by Ippon.
“Hearing both of my coaches giving support, one from the side, one from the coach’s box, along with my family in the stands, made all the difference,” said Gagné. ‘’They really compliment each other and it’s having that support that ultimately pushed me to perform better on the mat.”
In men’s 6o kilos, Justin Karn of Montreal had a first round bye then lost in the quarterfinal to Henry Borges of Uruguay by two Shidos.
Gagné produced her first big international success in judo in 2015 when she won the bronze medal in the B1 (visually impaired) 52 kilo class at a para-judo World Cup in Hungary which featured nearly 200 competitors from 31 countries.
Gagné was born in Granby, Que., but moved to Sarnia, Ont., at age three. She was initially involved in wrestling but decided to switch to judo in 2010 because there were more competitive opportunities.
In 2011, she suffered a major injury when she broke both her feet in the same bout at a tournament in Whitby. This kept her off the mat for eight months, but she eventually came back better than ever.
In 2013, Gagné moved to Ottawa where she joined the renowned Takahashi Dojo where she trains under former national team judoka and Olympian Nathalie Gosselin. When not at the club, she works at a marketing firm in the nation’s capital.
She graduated in travelling ministries from a Bible College in Oklahoma and hopes to one day work with inner-city children.
Judo competition continues Thursday at the Abilities Centre in Whitby.