Ice is broken before returning to training 26 June 2023
Another Medal for Lasha Tsatsalashvili 9 July 2023
Back in international competition since February after a major operation,
Antoine Bouchard took a huge step in the right direction with his victory in the under 81 kg category on Saturday at the Pan American Open in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
Bouchard also won at the Pan American Open in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in April. However, Canadian coach Alexandre Émond is convinced that Saturday’s victory is much more appreciated for Bouchard, given the high calibre of the athletes present in Guayaquil. “It hasn’t been that long since Antoine returned to competition after his operation, he hasn’t felt this good for a long time and he was able to beat some excellent opponents. It’s a very good result and it’s proof that he’s back in form”, commented Émond. Bouchard won his first two bouts of the day before going on to defeat Cuba’s Magdiel Estrada, ranked 20th in the world, in the semifinals. “Estrada is an excellent judoka and I think Antoine was very pleased to have beaten him. He managed to wear him down. It was a strategy that paid off in the final fight.” Bouchard continued his journey to the final where he met Colombian Andres Sandoval. With the score tied at the very last second of the fight, Bouchard launched an attack that sent his opponent to the floor. After consulting the video replay, officials confirmed the Quebecer’s victory. “It was a big fight in the final, Sandoval adjusted to Antoine’s style. It came down to the very last second, it was like a last-second winning shot in basketball. He started his maneuver just before the end of regulation time and that’s how he won”, added Émond. Isabelle Harris (-63 kg)and Julien Frascadore (-66 kg) both posted records of two wins and two losses, finishing fifth. Coralie Godbout finished seventh in the under 73 kg category with one win in three bouts. Alexandria Lefort (-70 kg), David Popovici (-81 kg) and Adrian Shimabukuro (-66 kg) were defeated in their only fight of the day. Three Canadian medals in Slovenia A total of 27 Canadian athletes were in action this weekend in Slovenj Gradec, Slovenia for the presentation of a Junior European Cup. Three of them finished on the podium: Lasha Tsatsalashvili (-73 kg) with silver as well as Jumber Meladze (-81 kg) and John Jr Messé A Bessong (+100 kg), both with bronze. Tsatsalashvili was the most successful fighter in Slovenia. After winning his first four bouts to earn a place in the final, the Ontarian finally lost to Italy’s Vincenzo Pelligra. Although the gold medal narrowly eluded Tsatsalashvili, coach Sasha Mehmedovic was delighted with his protégé’s performance. “Lasha was in full control throughout the day. In the final, his opponent had an excellent game plan to challenge him. He was not able to find a solution to win, but I am satisfied with Lasha’s day”, he explained. Mehmedovic was also very proud of the performances of Jumber Meladze and John Jr Messé A Bessong, who both bounced back brilliantly after suffering defeats in their semifinals. “Jumber was dominant in each of his fights. He had a weaker outing in the semifinal, but these things happen. The Ukrainian was solid and Jumber didn’t have time to adapt to his style. He came back strongly afterwards in a big fight for the bronze medal.” “Much like Jumber, John lost in the semifinals, but he used that defeat as motivation for his bronze medal fight. He was solid and won quite easily”, added Mehmedovic. Mehmedovic also highlighted the work of British-Columbian Luke Thomson, who placed fifth in his first competition in the under 66 kg category, having previously fought in the under 60 kg category. On the women’s side, Evelyne Beaton (-52 kg) and Laurence Biron (-70 kg) both finished fifth in their respective categories. In other results of the day, Heidi Quach and Marie-Lune Turmel, fighting in the under 48 kg category, posted records of one win and two losses to both finish in seventh place, as did Mahée Savoie (-57 kg). Jeremie Ngombi and Arthur Karpukov, in the under 73 kg category, finished their day’s work with positive records, but were unable to claim a ranking. Frédéric de Cardaillac (-66 kg), Félix Mercier-Ross (-73 kg), Matis Ganet (-73 kg), Olivier Gagnon (-73 kg), Violette Louet (-52 kg) and Catherine Toshkov (-57 kg) finished their day with a win and a loss while Raphael Gaanan (-60 kg), Daniil Kremerman (-60 kg), Victor Dessureault (-60 kg), Yuriy Semenyuk (-66 kg), Faniry-Michael Andriamanana (-81 kg), Sarra Bourihane (-52 kg), Meloize Perkinson (-63 kg) and Loika Robertson (-63 kg) lost their only bout in Slovenia.