| Judo Canada - “It was my day” – Sasha Mehmedovic|
Montréal, April 28th, 2012 – Sasha Mehmedovic won the silver medal in the under 66 kg class, Saturday, at the Pan-American Championships presented at the McConnell Arena in Montréal. With the 2nd place finish, the Quebecer locked up his spot at the upcoming London Games, this summer.
Mehmedovic qualified for the semifinals thanks to victories over the American Bradford Bolen and the Chilean Alejandro Zuniga. Up next against the Venezuelan Valderrama Ricardo, Mehmedovic was able to squeeze out a win by yuko, in what was a hotly contested bout. In the final it was the Brazilian Leandro Cunha, two-time vice-champion of the world and currently ranked 6th overall, who would get the better of the Quebecois, winning the gold with a yuko.
“It’s tough to come from behind against this type of athlete, Mehmedovic explained. But overall, I was really happy with how things turned out. This was the last competition in the Olympic selection process, and I still needed to compile points to assure my qualification. I was pretty nervous this morning, but in the end things went my way. It was my day,” Mehmedovic asserted.
In the under 57 kg division, Joliane Melançon was in tough, needing nothing less than Pan-American gold to qualify for the Olympics. Things started well for the Quebecoise, with decisive victories over the Haitian Ange Mercie Jean Baptiste and the Honduran Cergia David. Her semifinal match found her face to face with a much stronger opponent, however, as she took on the 4th ranked judoka in the world, Brazilian Rafaela Silva. The Brazilian would prove too much to handle, winning the bout with an ippon throw at the halfway mark.
“She’s an exceptional athlete that I’ve never managed to beat. I might have had a better chance in the fight had I somehow got on her on the ground,” said Melançon, who would go on to end her day on a positive note with a bronze medal. She easily beat the Mexican Ana Leon, taking her down to ground for an ippon within the first minute.
“It was a nice way to finish my day,” the Quebecer attested, composed despite the disappointment of missing out on the London Games. I’m disappointed but at the same time, I have nothing to be ashamed of. I got better and better from one competition to the next. I have peace of mind, and am looking forward to getting back to work for the next run of Olympic qualifying.”
Sergio Pessoa Jr. wins silver
Sergio Pessoa Jr., the Quebecois judoka who’s has already qualified for the London Games, won the silver medal in the under 60 kg class.
He started off his day with a win over the Venezuelan Javier Guedez before making quick work of the Surinamese Yigal Kopinsky, winning the fight with an ippon just seconds in. In the semifinals against the Mexican Castillo Nabor, Pessoa Jr. was able to score an ippon in the final seconds to come away with the win. Things went less well for the Quebecer in the final, however, where he lost to the Brazilian Felipe Kitadai (15th in the world) by ippon.
“I was winning the bout by a shido and probably should have been more defensive. Technically I was having a good fight and decided to try some different things. I made a mistake, and mistakes against an athlete like him you simply can’t get away with,” Pessoa Jr. elaborated. The Quebecer had won his previous bout versus Kitadai. “That said, it was the best time to try out new things with the Olympics right around the corner.”
In the under 55 kg category, a non-Olympic division, the Quebecois Mahdi Zeghir was beaten in the final by ippon against the Ecuadorian Cristhian Toala.
Elsewhere, Isabel Latulippe (-48 kg), Laurie Wiltshire (-52 kg) and Justin Imagwa (-73 kg) all finished 7th in their respective categories.
The Canadian judokas will be back in action, Sunday, for the team competition.
Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada