Montréal, October 1, 2011 – Michal Popiel obtained a ninth place finish in the under 66 kg class, Saturday, at the Judo World Cup event in Liverpool, England, caught off guard by a young and promising, 20-year-old Brit.
Popiel, 33rd in the international standings, started his day on a good note, when he defeated the Spaniard Javier Delgado, 97th in the world, on the judges scorecard.
“It’s been a long time since he’s competed at this level. He’s won several medals,” the Quebecer pointed out about Delgado. “This is the first time I’ve ever faced him. I was happy with the result. It was close, but I felt like I had the upper hand for the whole fight, “ Popiel explained.
In his second bout, Popiel saw the Brit Lewis Keeble, competing in his very first year in the senior ranks, end his tournament by scoring an ippon.
“I made a quick attack at the beginning. (The judges) didn’t give me a point. I believe I deserved one,” the Canadian indicated, clearly disappointed. “He then made an attack that caught me by surprise. He had previously attempted all his moves from the right, but the last came from the left. He dropped me for an ippon.”
Popiel had some nice things to say about Keeble, vice-champion at the British Open in May, and 5th on Saturday. “I think he’ll eventually become the number one in England, and will do well on the international stage.”
The 26-year-old athlete, who had suffered a groin injury before the World Championships in August, was satisfied with his pre-tournament training. “I was well prepared. Physically, I felt much better.”
Frazer Will was also in competition on Saturday, in the under 60 kg category. The Quebecer, 28th in the world, lost in the first round to the Saudi Eisa Majrashi, classed 54th worldwide, by way of ippon.
Popiel and Will will have the chance to bounce back at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (United Arab Emirates) in two weeks time. “There isn’t that many tournaments left that count towards the Olympic games qualifications. It makes each one more important than the last,” Popiel pointed out.
Three more Canadian judokas will be hitting the tatamis at the Liverpool World Cup on Sunday: Alexandre Émond, Antoine Valois-Fortier and Emin Sheykhislyamov.
Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada