Montreal, June 4th, 2022 – Jumber Meladze represented Canada for the very first time in his youth career on Saturday at the European Junior Cup in Graz, Austria. The 18-year-old judoka took advantage of the moment to demonstrate his talent and his strength of character by concluding a grueling day with a fifth place.
It was a long road, but Meladze managed to fight his way to one of the bronze finals in the under 73kg category, where he faced Germany’s Jano Ruebo. In his seventh and final bout of the day, the Georgia native once again proved tough, but fatigue and penalties decided in favor of his rival.
“Jumber took the lead early in the fight, but he got two penalties and the momentum shifted. His opponent came back to score and then he slightly lost focus. He felt tired and it was finally a third shido that put an end to the fight. It’s a shame because we really believed that things were on our side” said coach Sasha Mehmedovic after the tournament.
The setback also ended the winning streak of Meladze, who had won all three of his previous repechage encounters to reach the bronze medal match. A feat that testifies to all of his resilience, according to Mehmedovic.
“The further he advanced in the tournament, the more rhythm he had. He quickly realized he had to do even more to get on the podium and he was able to stand out against top level judokas. It’s all to his credit.”
In the end, only Jano Ruebo and the Japanese Ryuga Tanaka, the eventual champion of the category, managed to defeat Jumber Meladze, who will proudly emerge from his first international competition in the colors of the maple leaf.
“We knew he had talent and he made a very good impression,” continued Mehmedovic. Not only in the eyes of the coaches, but also of his new teammates. He showed everyone that he can compete with the best in the world.”
Also, in action in the under 73 kg category, Munkhjin Batdorj ended his tournament with a record of one win and two losses. The Quebecer won his first duel against the Czech Simon Krizek, before suffering a defeat against the Georgian Giorgi Loladze, finishing fifth at the end of the competition. Batdorj then headed to the repechage but was eliminated at the hands of Kazakh Bekassyl Beisembayev.
On the women’s side, Meadow Macdonald (-63 kg) was the only Canadian representative to achieve a victory on the Graz tatami mats on Saturday. The Albertan first lost to the eventual bronze medalist Esmigul Kuyulova of Uzbekistan before coming back strong in the repechage to defeat Serbian Kristina Nisavic. However, her run came to an end in the next round due to a loss to Italian Antonietta Palumbo.
Similarly, to his teammate, Yanis Hachemi (-66 kg) was also defeated in the second round of the repechage, where he faced Croatian Nikola Zorotovic. Earlier in the day, Hashemi had beaten the German Marek Zimmermann and the Polish Bruno Jesionek in quick succession before losing against the Uzbek Nursultan Zaizagaliyev, who was eventually crowned the champion of the category a few hours later.
“Munkhjin, Meadow and Yanis learned a lot today (Saturday). They are very young athletes and they have a little less experience in this kind of event. They showed great things and this competition will be useful for their development. They know a little better about where they are at the world level and they will know what to work on to improve and possibly win in these tournaments. It is a very positive experience,” concluded Mehmedovic.
Also, in the tournament in the under 66 kg category, the Quebecer Frédéric De Cardaillac lost on his first outing of the day and could not continue his journey. The scenario turned out to be similar for his compatriots Sarah Ekosky (-63 kg), Kiera Westlake (-63 kg), Laurence Biron (-70 kg), Norbert Peter Andras (-60 kg) and Gunner Floyd (-73 kg) who were all eliminated after their first fight.
The activities will resume on Sunday at the European Cup in Graz. Canadians Evelyn Beaton (-52 kg), Eibhleann Alexander (-57 kg), Kondelia Karas (-57 kg), David Popovici (-81 kg), Guillaume Gaulin (-81 kg), Alec Garand (-90 kg), Michael Akbashev (-100 kg), Nikola Petrovic (-100 kg) and John Jr Messe A Bessong (+100 kg) will be competing on the tatami next.
Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada
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