Weekend wrap: New category, no problem for Priscilla Gagné

Canadian Paralympic Committee

July 04, 2022

Tokyo flag bearer wins gold at Para judo World Cup


SAO PAULO, Brazil – Priscilla Gagné, Canada’s flag bearer in the Opening Ceremony at Tokyo 2020 last summer, won gold in the women’s 57 kilos J1 category this past weekend at a Para judo Grand Prix competition.

It was her first major event in the 57 kilo class, and this was also one of the first tournaments to divide athletes into two separate categories based on their level of visual impairment with J1 competitors having no sight.  

Gagné, the silver medallist at the Tokyo Paralympics in the 52 kilos, won the round robin format with a perfect 3-0 record. She defeated Brazil’s Larissa Silva before ousting another Brazilian, Benilce Lourenco. In her third fight, she bested Paula Gomez Martinez of Argentina.

“It went well,” said Gagné, 36, from Sarnia, Ont. and now based in Montreal. ‘’I stayed calm all day. I didn’t feel any pressure, and I wanted to assess my opponents properly. I was a bit alarmed this morning because I weighed in at only 53 kg, making me one of the smallest competitors.

‘’But I followed my coach Andrzej Sadej’s advice, and things went fine.”

Gagné enjoyed all the new challenges at one event: the weight class change, the round robin, and only blind competitors.

“It was interesting to compete in a tournament where there was no semifinal or final,’’ she said. ‘’For each bout, the stakes felt different. The fact that we were all completely blind changed things. It was a new experience, and to me, it felt positive.”

In the women’s under 70 kilos J2 event, Michelle Jorgensen of Kelowna, B.C. added a silver.

She defeated Michelle Aparecida Ferreira of Brazil by ippon in her opening bout before being defeated by eventual champion Dalida Rodriguez Clark of Cuba.

“It was a small but very experienced group,’’ said Sadej. ‘’Both of Michelle’s opponents were former Paralympic medallists.

‘’It was her first time fighting elite athletes, and she proved that she belonged at that level. I have no doubt that she’ll soar to the top of her division.”

Canadian men’s wheelchair basketball team earns win in final friendly with the Netherlands

Canada wrapped up a four-game series against the Netherlands with a 57-56 victory on Saturday in a feature game at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.

Canada opened the set of friendlies with a 73-67 loss to the Dutch and then fell 72-41 before losing a close 65-58 game on Friday.

“We needed the win for team morale,” said Nik Goncin. “Arguably, there’s no better competition than the Netherlands. They finished first in Europe, so we got the best team to come play us. Everybody gave it something today, so feeling pretty good. It’s different when it is one or two guys, but when it’s 12, it felt like a team win today.”

The series against the Netherlands served as part of Team Canada’s preparation for the Americas Cup in São Paulo, Brazil, where Canada will compete in qualifying for the 2022 World Wheelchair Basketball Championships.

The Americas Cup (July 13-18) will see Canada’s men’s team play in Group B with Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. The top four men’s teams will earn the right to represent the Americas region in Dubai at the world championships later this year (Nov. 16-27).

With files from Judo Canada and Wheelchair Basketball Canada

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