Montreal, June 5th, 2022 – At 16, John Jr Messe A Bessong was the youngest competitor in action in the over 100 kg category on Sunday at the Junior European Cup in Graz, Austria. However, this did not prevent the Canadian judoka from demonstrating that he can already compete with the world’s elite.
Just a few weeks after being crowned the Canadian champion in the under-18 category and vice-champion in the senior category, Messe A Bessong was back on the tatami to compete against the best junior judokas on the planet.
He first faced Giorgi Tabatadze, an eventual bronze medalist, against whom he fought a constant battle. The experience finally worked in favor of the Georgian who won by ippon in the last seconds of regulation time.
Messe A Bessong then headed into the first round of the repechage, where he earned a bye due to an injury to his opponent. The Canadian therefore met with Huseyn Mammedov in the next round and he once again gave his rival a difficult time.
The outcome of the confrontation, however, went to the advantage of the representative of Azerbaijan who bet on patience to surprise Messe A Bessong in the fourth minute of the fight and win by ippon.
The Laval resident thus concluded the day with a record of one win and two losses, but above all, with more international experience in the bank, as Sasha Mehmedovic mentioned after the tournament.
“John was defeated twice, but that doesn’t necessarily represent the pace of the fights,” he said. He was dominant in the opening minutes of his fights and his opponents quickly took shidos. On the other hand, the tide turned in the middle of the fight and their experience took over. That’s what made the difference.”
This competition can thus serve as a barometer, but also as a motivator for the Canadian judoka who will certainly come back stronger at the next occasion.
“John is still very young and that makes a big difference at this level,” continued Mehmedovic. Today, he was fighting against men and we see that he will have to become even stronger to make podiums. On the other hand, he showed that he was already capable of fighting against them and holding his own with the best. This bodes well for the future.”
Eight other Canadians were in action on Sunday, but none of them managed to find their way to victory. In the under 81 kg, David Popovici and Guillaume Gaulin both lost on their first outing, as did Alec Garand (-90 kg), Michael Akbashev (-100 kg) and Nikola Petrovic (-100 kg) in their respective category.
Among the girls, Evelyn Beaton (-52 kg), Eibhleann Alexander (-57 kg) and Kondelia Karas (-57 kg) suffered the same fate.
However, the work is far from over for the Canadian delegation present in Austria, as its athletes will be back on the mats on Monday to take part in a three-day camp. For Sasha Mehmedovic, this will be the perfect opportunity to target areas for improvement for future tournaments.
“We knew it was a very high caliber event and that it could be a little more difficult in terms of results. However, we wanted to see the desire to win from our judokas and they all showed that they are ready to work hard to achieve their goal. The next three days will be very beneficial for them and they will come out stronger,” he concluded.
Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada
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