The two Canadians fighting on Day 2 of the World Junior Championships had an identical path in Odivelas, Portugal. Ontario’s Lasha Tsatsalashvili (-73 kg) and New Brunswick’s Mahée Savoie (-57 kg) both received first-round byes, only to lose their first bouts on Thursday.
Competing against Frenchman Eliot Prévé, who would conclude his day in seventh place, Tsatsalashvili started the fight strongly before the tide turned, according to his coach Sasha Mehmedovic.
“Lasha is one of the most experienced members of our team. His fight against the Frenchman was tough. He did well in the first two minutes, but after that he was a shadow of his former self. The Frenchman took control in the attacks and holds, and then was able to complete the throw in overtime.”
The coach confessed that his 18-year-old protégé took the defeat particularly hard, as he had high expectations.
“He was very disappointed with himself and it wasn’t the result he wanted, because he’d had success on the international scene. Losing your first fight is hard to accept. These are junior athletes and their careers don’t end here. You have to learn from these situations and move on. He’s young and has a lot of talent and potential.”
In her first appearance at the World Junior Championships, Acadian Mahée Savoie was defeated by Dutchwoman Julie Beurskens in just under a minute following an immobilization.
“The Dutchwoman was more physical than her and she’s disappointed that the match didn’t last longer. […] We’re not trying to develop world junior champions, we’re developing judokas who will be successful at the senior level. That’s our ultimate goal,” the coach added.
On Friday, Laurence Biron (-70 kg) and Jumber Meladze (-81 kg) will compete on the tatamis.
Mehmedovic is confident they’ll have a good run, as they were both crowned continental junior champions in their respective category a few weeks ago in Calgary.