Montreal, August 13, 2017 – “Mission accomplished!” exclaimed national team coach Jean-Pierre Cantin at the closing of the Cadet World Judo Championships, which came to an end on Sunday in Santiago, Chile.
On the closing day of the tournament, the countries in attendance faced off in the team challenge. Canada’s team finished in seventh place after being eliminated by the Germans in the first round of the repechage. “The strategy was pretty simple. The female German athletes were too strong for our women so the only way we could come out on top was if our men won all their events. This left us with no leeway and no room for error,” explained Cantin.
The coach pulled out his secret weapon, Ontario’s Benjamin Kendrick, for the +81 kg bout. The U90 kg bronze medal winner successfully completed his mission. “Ben managed to score a magnificent ippon against his opponent, who had to be at least 40 kg heavier than Ben. It was spectacular.” Despite that victory, the Canadians came out on the low end of a tight 4-3 score, which put an end to their day.
Earlier, they had won their first match of the day against the Mexicans. “In the first fight against Mexico, I had to choose between Luka Khatelishvili and Alexandre Arencibia for the U81 kg division, and between Ian Ryder and Benjamin Kendrick for the +81 kg division. In order to maximize the athletes’ experience, I selected Alexandre and Ian.”
In the second round, Cantin’s protégés bowed out to a strong Brazilian team; the final score was 8-0. “I knew the Brazilians would be too tough for us so our strategy was to conserve as much energy as possible for the repechage. Incidentally, the Brazilians placed second overall.”
For today’s team events, Canada’s team was composed of Aidos Sapenov (U55 kg), Kiera Westlake (U52 kg), Keagan Young (U66 kg), Alicia Fiandor (U63 kg), Alexandre Arencibia (U81 kg), Luka Khatelishvili (U81 kg), Benjamin Kendrick (+81 kg), and Ian Ryder (+81 kg).
A total of two Canadians stepped onto the podium in Santiago. In addition to Kendrick, Keagan Young won a bronze medal in the U66 kg category earlier in the week.
“All the athletes worked hard and I’m proud of them,” declared Cantin, who also wished to recognize the excellent work of assistant coaches Ewan Beaton and James Millar, who greatly contributed to the team’s success. “We reached our goal together. Working with colleagues of their calibre throughout the preparation period and here at the Championships was not only a pleasure, but also a guarantee of a job well done.”