IJF Media Department and Judo Canada
IJF Ben Urban / International Judo Federation
The Canadian team will depart from Georgia with a total of four medals: two gold, one silver and one bronze, putting Canada in second place overall in the tournament. Shady El Nahas added a final medal to Canada’s haul when he earned a gold medal Sunday on the final day of the Tbilisi Grand Slam in Georgia. The Canadian bested the local Georgian youngster, Ilia Sulamanidze, in the under-100 kg final. For El Nahas, who turned 23 on Saturday, it was a great way to celebrate his birthday. Sulamanidze (19) became the youngest medallist this tournament.
Following in the footsteps of his teammates, who already collected three medals during the first two days, Shady El Nahas entered the final of the U100kg category. In front of him was not the best know Georgian competitor, but Ilia Sulamanidze (GEO) didn’t care and produced his best judo to eliminate current world champion, Jorge Fonseca (POR), who we mentioned a few days ago, as someone who could win or lose at any time, before the final stages.
El Nahas: “This is my best result so far in my career. I could even call it a perfect day! We heavyweights were hoping to go back to Canada with a medal, to show the lighter ones [on the Canadian team] that we can do it too. These have been three great days for Team Canada, and I hope it continues!” said the gold medallist.
The final was a beautiful opposition of style with Sulamanidze producing Georgian style judo, based on close contact and counterattacks, while El Nahas was producing some more traditional attacks. It is with one of those attacks that the Canadian scored a waza-ari with a long distance ko-uchi-gari.
For the first three minutes of the final, the two competitors appeared to be on equal footing. El Nahas attempted his first scoring attacks with about a minute to go, but the score remained 0-0. With only about thirty seconds left, the Canadian managed to knock Sulamanidze onto his back to score a waza-ari.
El Nahas then played it safe until time ran out, and although he received two non-combativity penalties, his score was high enough to secure his victory.
“It was a technique that my coaches and I had kept on hand. I kept it hidden and it worked,” continued El Nahas, who believes this victory will ensure he keeps his spot in the world’s Top Eight. “I really needed this medal, and it will help me a lot for Tokyo. It’s a relief because I hadn’t won a quarter-final for a long time, so I was really motivated to take it even further.” It was a nice way to conclude his birthday weekend.
The first bronze medal contest saw the winner of the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Slam, Niiaz Bilalov (RUS) and Muzaffarbek Turoboyev (UZB), bronze medallist in Tashkent two weeks ago facing each other. Once again the Uzbek rose to the podium after launching zillions of attacks in regular time and in golden score. Only one was actually necessary and had the required control to score a waza-ari with a soto-maki-komi.
Toma Nikiforov (BEL) who won in Tashkent for his comeback, this time had to be happy with a possible bronze. He faced Joakim Dvarby (SWE) for a spot on the podium. The least we can say is that Dvarby tried and he tried hard to throw Nikiforov with brillant yoko-tomoe-nage entries or massive shoulder movements but maybe a little too deep under the centre of gravity of the Belgian, so that Dvarby couldn’t finish the move. Toma Nikiforov used one single mistake of Dvarby to throw him with a low ura-nage for waza-ari. Tired but happy, Nikiforov left at the end with a new medal around his neck.