Ontario’s Jumber Meladze and Quebec’s Laurence Biron had high hopes for the World Junior Championships, being held this week in Odivelas, Portugal. Unfortunately, their workdays ended earlier than expected on Friday, leaving both athletes with a feeling of frustration.
In the under-81 kg weight category, Meladze obtained a first-round bye before squaring off against Israel’s Yaniv Agronov. After clinching the match in less than two minutes, the 20-year-old Canadian advanced to the third round, where he faced individual neutral athlete Timur Arbuzov, a formidable opponent. When the bout went into overtime, Arbuzov bided his time, eventually pinning Meladze to the ground to win.
“[Jumber] started the day off strong. In his first bout, he was in full control. Unfortunately, Arbuzov was a tough opponent. We knew the fight would be a difficult one. Jumber may have lacked some focus in overtime, and his opponent took advantage of that to gain the lead,” said coach Sasha Mehmedovic.
“For Jumber, the loss was hard to take. He was ranked second at the beginning of the tournament, and he’s been doing very well lately. He was feeling confident, but Arbuzov really challenged him,” he added.
Arbuzov advanced to the bronze medal final, where he beat Petr Mlady of the Czech Republic to claim the third spot on the podium.
Laurence Biron also received a bye in the first round on Friday. She then faced Khurshida Razzokberdieva of Uzbekistan. Although the Québécoise fought fiercely throughout the match, she was unable to repel her opponent’s attacks. Razzokberdieva won the bout with two waza-ari.
“These were Laurence’s first junior world championships, so she may have been feeling some extra pressure. She didn’t fight poorly, but she seemed a lot more nervous than usual. It’s nothing to worry about. She’ll learn from the experience,” explained Mehmedovic.
On Saturday, only one Canadian will be in action on the final day of the Junior World Championships in Odivelas. John Jr Messé A Bessong will compete in the over-100 kg division. In his first bout of the day, the former cadet world champion will face the winner of the match between Alex Semenenko of the USA and neutral individual athlete Denis Batchaev.
“John’s first fight won’t be an easy one, but he’s feeling great. He’s been excellent lately, and he told me he couldn’t wait to compete at the World Championships. We’re looking forward to seeing what happens,” concluded the coach.