John Jr. Messé A Bessong Wasn’t Quite Done

Lasha Tsatsalashvili Golden in Lima
10 April 2022
Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard Just Short of Summit
16 April 2022

A Total of Seven Medals for the Canadian Juniors

Montréal, April 10, 2022 – Less than 24 hours after his loss in the Cadets final on Saturday, John Jr. Messé A Bessong (+100 kg) was back on the Peruvian tatamis. This time, he had every intention of climbing to the top step of the podium at the PanAmerican-Oceania Junior Championships in Lima. And the Canadian did just that, ending his day with a 3-0 record and a gold medal around his neck.

Messé A Bessong left no doubt as to his objective on Sunday. In back-to-back victories, he defeated Jose Ignacio Jara of Chile and Elmer Orejuela of Columbia by ippon to advance to the final. In his gold medal match against Christian Konoval of the USA, he capped off a perfect tournament by scoring a waza-ari for the win.

“I wasn’t really at my best this week, but I felt a lot better today (Sunday). After losing yesterday, I made the necessary adjustments, and it paid off. I was a lot quicker and I was determined to win,” commented the newly crowned champion after the competition.

Nikola Petrovic (-100 kg) and Lasha Tsatsalashvili (-73 kg)also advanced to the finals in their respective weight divisions, but neither walked away with the coveted gold medal.

Petrovic’s hopes of being crowned champion were dashed after a hard-fought clash with Brazil’s Kayo Santos that was decided by ippon. The British Columbian, who had won his two previous bouts, was awarded the silver medal.

For Tsatsalashvili, the scene played out in similar fashion. The Ontarian, who clinched the cadet championship just yesterday, won his first three bouts by ippon, but was unable to complete the sweep. He bowed out to Brazil’s Gabriel Falcão in the final.

“Nikola and Lasha were great today! They fought some very tough fights against strong opponents and really showed their potential. It was a great learning experience for them. Their futures are definitely bright,” commented coach 
Sasha Mehmedovic.

Also in action in the under-73 kg pool, Munkhjin Batdorj was defeated by Falcão in the semi-finals. However, the Québécois ended his day on a high note with a victory over Argentina’s Matteo Etchechury and a bronze medal.

Bronze for Popovic, Keays and Simard

David Popovic (-81 kg), Janessa Keays (+78 kg) and Justine Simard (-70 kg) added three more bronze medals to the Canadian team’s haul in Lima.

Although Popovic was defeated in the quarter-finals by Brazil’s Kauan Santos—who was crowned champion of the weight class a few hours later—he did not give up. The Québécois clinched the bronze medal by beating Panama’s Jose Albis Castro Matos, who received three penalties during the bout.

Janessa Keays of Saskatchewan also ended her day in fine form, defeating Idania Ambulay of Peru by ippon to secure the bronze medal. In her only other match of the tournament, she lost to Brazil’s Luana Oliveira, who went on to win the gold medal in the weight division.

As for Simard, she was awarded the bronze medal thanks to a victory over her teammate Laurence Biron. It was the third straight win for Simard, whose only loss of the day was in the first round.

Biron finished the day in fifth place. Her countrymates Raphael Gaanan (-60 kg) and Callie Render (-63 kg) also finished at the foot of the podium after heartbreaking losses in their respective bronze medal finals. Gaanan, of British Columbia, lost to Panama’s Eriberto De Aza, while Render lost to Emily Daniela Jaspe of the USA.

Also in action on Sunday was Aliya Koliaska of Alberta, who won only one of her three bouts and finished seventh in the under-57 kg pool. The only other Canadian in competition today was British Columbia’s Ekaterina Danilkov (-48 kg), who was eliminated after losing her first match of the day.

The Canadian delegation’s total haul of seven medals landed the team in second place, behind Brazil with sixteen. Mehmedovic is proud of the team’s achievement. “It was a great day, and we’re very pleased with their accomplishments. Our young athletes came to compete, and they performed very well. It was a positive experience for them. They’ve learned a lot here in Peru,” he concluded.

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Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada
For more information:
Patrick Esparbès
Chief Operating Officer
Judo Canada
(514) 668-6279

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