John Jr Messe A Bessong, Cadet World Champion

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John Jr Messe A Bessong (+90 kg) had a dream 2022 season with many podiums and even a few gold medals. On Saturday, at the Cadet World Championships held in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Quebecer continued his momentum to become world champion in the cadets.

Photo Judo Canada
John Jr Messe A Bessong on the podium

Messe A Bessong started the day strong by quickly winning his first two fights against Gereltbayar Ochir of Mongolia and Ramazan Ahmadov of Azerbaijan. Two victories that gave confidence to the Canadian and his coach Alexandre Émond.

“It was pretty easy in his first two fights. He did not spend too much energy and he was very expeditious, which is enough to give us confidence quickly. He managed the start of the day well,” explained the coach.

The 17-year-old continued his epic quarter-final by defeating Emirkhan Zholdoshkaziev of Kyrgyzstan. He then reached the final thanks to his victory over the Japanese Dota Arai, a rather unknown opponent to the Canadian.

“The athlete from Kyrgyzstan was as tall as John, which is quite rare honestly. John managed to beat him strategically by making him take several penalties. Then, the Japanese was left-handed, which is a bit of John’s pet peeve, but he managed to beat him quite easily and he had gained confidence for the final.”

Messe A Bessong completed this perfect day by winning the grand final in front of the Brazilian Gabriel Santos. The latter is clearly the one that gave the most trouble to the Quebecer during the day.

“It’s been a great day for John, I’m really happy for him. He had already trained with the Brazilian in the past. John was coming from behind at the end of the fight, he took a risk by going to the body and the technique worked. He threw the Brazilian to the ground to win by ippon,” said Alexandre Émond.

With his very imposing physique and his excellent record in 2022, John Jr Messe A Bessong arrived in Sarajevo with the gold medal in his sights. He admittedly met all expectations.

“John has an extraordinary physique and he is super athletic for his size. I think he would be successful in all sports. He was coming to Sarajevo to get on the podium, there is no doubt about that. He believed in the gold medal obviously, when he saw the draw, he knew he had a good chance of going all the way,” Émond added.

In the under 90kg category, Yonatan Soloveichik was defeated in his only fight of the day when he faced Greece’s Alexios Sperlidis.

On the women’s side, Kiera Burt (-70 kg) won her first fight of the day against Bulgaria’s Emili Apostolova, but was later surprised by the eventual silver medalist Serena Ondei of Italy.

Brandi Lingley (+70 kg) had an equally difficult draw after she took advantage of a bye in the first round while her opponent failed to make the weight during the weigh-in. She was then pitted against french giant Grace-Esther Mienandi Lahou, who won and continued on to the top of the podium.

“Kiera easily won her first fight of the day in seconds. The Italian was very strong, she surprised Kiera with a rather unique maneuver. As for Brandi, she had no luck facing the Frenchwoman so quickly in the tournament. She managed to fight well anyway and she almost managed to throw her, but the difference in weight was really apparent, “commented the coach.

Also in action in the under 70 kg category, Marianne Karas suffered a defeat in her first duel against Italy’s Morgana De Paoli.

The Cadet World Championships continues on Sunday in Sarajevo with the start of the team competition. Coach Alexandre Émond has high expectations for this last day of competition.

“We are definitely aiming for a medal, it will not be an easy day. We will start the day in the quarter-finals against the winner of the clash between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Azerbaijan. We know it’s possible, but we’ll have to work hard,” Émond concluded.

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