For the third and last time in Calgary in May, the Open National Championships are just a few weeks away. Last year, a total of 686 athletes were competing for various national titles, and we can only guess that this year’s event will be just as successful. Many of these athletes will be back to defend their title, and few are as qualified as Shady El Nahas to tell us all about it.
In the last few years, Shady’s name has been associated with progress and success. Despite being only 20 years old, the judoka has already been crowned national champion numerous times, and a few of these titles were won in Calgary. “Competing in Calgary is a big deal for me. If I can defend my title again, it’ll make me a 10 times national champion, which is something I really want to achieve,” said the athlete. “I remember my first time winning a national title. I was ecstatic. It was something I’d worked very hard for in the gym and in the dojo, and I hope I can feel this feeling of pride again in a few weeks.”
After moving to Montreal to focus on his training, Shady feels more ready than he’s ever been. “I’m much bigger, faster and stronger than I used to be. I think that’s the biggest difference between the first time fought I fought in Calgary and now. I’ve grown, but I’ve also worked really hard in training, and it shows.”
When asked about his opponents, Shady says he doesn’t feel more pressure than usual. “I don’t like to overthink it,” he explained. “I don’t really get nervous until the morning of the tournament, or right before a fight. I’m not worried about anyone in particular, because I usually think of the competition as a whole instead of individual opponents. I treat each fighter in front of me as my biggest threat so that I can perform my absolute best every single time.” The strategy has obviously paid off, knowing that he has been crowned national champion 9 times already.
According to last year’s results, Shady strongest opponents will likely be his own teammates from Montreal. In 2016 and 2017, Quebec has consistently been the province with the highest medal count (29 gold medals in 2016, 27 in 2017), followed by Alberta and Ontario.
Like many before him, Shady sees much further than another national title. After Calgary and the Canada Cup in July, he’ll kick off the next part of his journey with a summer tour, and hopefully end it with a possible Olympic qualification.
Written by Sarah Mailhot for Judo Canada
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