John Jr. Messé A Bessong Takes Silver Against Tough Opponent

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Montréal, June 2, 2024 – Exactly one week after he defended his title of Canadian champion in the over-100 kg weight category, John Jr. Messé A Bessong was intent on achieving a similar result at the Junior European Cup in Graz, Austria. However, his winning streak came to an end on Sunday in the big final, against a familiar opponent: Kanan Nasibov of Azerbaijan.

Photo : Judo Canada
John Jr Messé A Bessong

As was also the case in their last two matches, Nasibov prevailed on penalties, this time after two minutes of combat.

“That loss in the final was a tough pill to swallow. Nasibov knows John’s weak points, and he always finds a way to use them to his advantage. The two of them know each other well, and they’ve fought each other often, but John has never beaten him. It’s frustrating for him,” said national coach Sasha Mehmedovic, following the tournament.

Messé A Bessong, who was well-prepared for the match, got off to a good start by making several attacks, although he did not succeed in scoring any points. However, things soured for the Québécois when he received a shido, and he was never able to fully recover. He had to concede defeat a few moments later, after making two further errors.

“Early on, John stuck to his game plan well and dominated the match, especially with his grip,” explained the coach. “Unfortunately, after he received his first penalty, he lost his focus, and his opponent took advantage of that.”

Earlier in the day, Messé A Bessong had defeated Tunahan Tutar of Turkey, Maor Klein of Israel, and Saba Kardava of Georgia by ippon in back-to-back bouts to advance to the big final in his category.

“The loss was unfortunate, but we witnessed some great progress in his judo today [Sunday]. It’s very encouraging, and he’s still learning. He’ll definitely encounter that opponent again soon, possibly even at the World Juniors, and he’ll be even better prepared next time,” added Mehmedovic.

Heidi Quach, the only other Canadian to rank on Sunday, finished seventh in the under-48 kg division. Following an initial loss to Mitsuki Kondo of Japan, who later won the gold medal, she bounced back in the repechage, throwing her opponent Mariana Nunes of Brazil to clinch the win.

However, her day came to an end just a few moments later, when Szabina Szeleczki of Hungary defeated her by ippon. Szeleczki went on to win a bronze medal.

“Heidi had a tough draw today! But these things happen. She did well, despite everything. She recovered well after losing to [Kondo], and she fought well against the Hungarian. Like John, she’ll have to learn to cope with the pressure of fighting that kind of opponent, but she’ll come out of this better equipped for the next time,” concluded Mehmedovic.

Also in the under-48 kg category, Marie-Lune Turmel finished the day with a 0-2 record. Inara Bardai (-57 kg), Ryan Belal (+100 kg), and Yury Semenuyk (-81 kg) were all eliminated in the first round, as was Luke Thompson in the under-66 kg category on Saturday.

Evelyn Beaton finished the tournament with a record of one win and two losses in the under-52 kg division.

Yanis Hachemi shines in Marrakesh

Like his teammate Messé A Bessong, Yanis Hachemi also made his mark on the weekend, taking second place at the African Open in Marrakesh, Morocco.

The Canadian senior under-73 kg champion posted three quick wins today, including two by waza-ari, to advance to the big final, where he faced Benjamin Axus of France.

Axus put an end to the Québécois’ winning streak, however, when he scored an ippon in the final minute of regulation time. This was the Hachemi’s second silver medal at a Continental Open. He also finished second in Santiago, Chile, in June 2023.

The 21-year-old will now head to Spain, where he will compete in the European Open in Madrid next weekend. Laurence Biron (-63 kg), Tylor Collin (- 60 kg), Olivier Gagnon (-73 kg), David Popovici (-81 kg), and Mohab ElNahas (-90 kg) will also take part in the two-day tournament.


Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada

For more information:

Patrick Esparbès
Chief Operating Officer
Judo Canada
(514) 668-6279

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