Montréal, August 27, 2013 – Both competing in the under 66 kg division, Canadian judokas Patrick Gagné and Sasha Mehmedovic were stopped in the 3rd round of the Judo World Championships presented in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
After advancing to the second round with a bye, Gagné, ranked 23rd in the world, then went on to easily beat the Guinean Mamadou Samba Bah with a waza-ari and ippon.
His next bout saw him take on the 7th ranked judoka, Brazilian Charles Chibana. Winner of the Moscow Grand Slam and bronze medalist at this year’s Pan American Championships, Chibana took out the Quebecer with a waza-ari as well as an ippon.
“He had a style that suited me fine, but he was in really good form and seemed to be on top of his game,” the 2013 Pan-American Championships silver medalist admitted.
“He scored right out of the gate, which threw me off and made me change my strategy,” added Gagné, who had hoped to keep his distance from his opponent for as long as possible in the fight. “From that point on, I had no choice but to go forward and try to claw my way back into the contest.”
The Quebecer, who turned 22 this past Sunday, attempted to free himself up for attacks, but ended up committing a fatal error in the process. “He took full advantage and scored an ippon in front of his fans.”
Taking on an athlete in their home country is never an easy task, a fact Gagné learnt the hard way. “I noticed the crowd was raring to go the second we got out on the tatami. Before the bout began, the atmosphere in the arena was motivating me more than anything, because I really wanted to beat him on his home turf. In the end, things just didn’t go my way.”
In his first participation at a senior World Championships, Gagné would have hoped for a better result. “I had a good draw. If I had been able to get through that last match, I could have gone pretty far. I’m disappointed to have missed my shot. My one consolation is that I at least managed to win a match.”
While Patrick Gagné made his first go at a senior World Championships, it was the opposite for Sasha Mehmedovic, who chose the tournament here in Rio as his last hurrah before retiring from all competitions as an athlete.
After benefitting from a first round bye, Mehmedovic made quick work of Central African Arnaud Langate, winning by an ippon after just 20 seconds. “It was a nice way to break the glass.”
His day unfortunately came to an end soon after, however, losing in his next match to the 10th ranked judoka, Nijat Shikhalizada of Azerbaijan, who scored a waza-ari and ippon. “He took me by surprise,” explained Mehmedovic, who went into the Championships ranked 31st. He was too fast and too strong,“ he added.
The 28-year-old athlete didn’t seem too disappointed by his early elimination, but instead seemed eager to begin the next chapter of his life. “Obviously I would have liked to have gone out with a better result, but there’s nothing I can do about that now. It’s time for me to move on and see what the future holds for me.”
The Canadian won’t be moving very far away from the tatamis. Starting in the fall, he’ll take over as the coach of the national junior team. “It’s a perfect transition for me, and I’m really excited to take on a new challenge.”
The World Championships continue on Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro. Stéfanie Tremblay and Joliane Melançon will take to the tatamis in the under 57 kg class, while Étienne Briand and Alexis Morin-Martel will be in action in the under 73 kg category.
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