Shady El Nahas marked his return to competition with a silver medal in the under-100 kg division at the Baku Grand Slam in Azerbaijan on Sunday. However, the result was less than satisfactory for the Canadian, whose goal was to reach the top of the podium.
The Grand Slam was El Nahas’ first competition since the Tokyo Olympics in July, where he placed fifth. Despite the period of inactivity, however, the 23-year-old Torontonian quickly regained his footing on the tatamis.
He began his day by defeating local judoka Adil Karimli by ippon, following up in identical style against Brazil’s Andre Humberto in the semi-final. He then faced Russia’s Niiaz Bilalov in a hard-fought final round.
Despite several early attempts, El Nahas was not able to rack up any points, and the bout went into overtime, where his opponent scored an ippon to clinch the gold medal.
“I was dominating throughout the bout, and I even thought I’d made a throw. I then received a second shido and was a lot less careful in overtime. In the end, he was able to trap me and win the match. For me, the result is a bit of a letdown, because I came here to win gold, and nothing less,” commented El Nahas, following the match.
However, national team coach Sasha Mehmedovic was pleased with the performance of El Nahas, who will have another opportunity to meet his goal at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam in less than three weeks.
“Overall, I’m very pleased with Shady’s performance, especially considering how brief his training period was before the tournament,” noted Mehmedovic. “It was a good opportunity for him to test himself after the Olympics, and he came very close to winning. After a few more competitions, he’ll be back in peak shape, and I have no doubt we’ll see him on top of the podium very soon.”
Also in action in the under-100 kg division on Sunday was Ian Ryder of British Columbia, who was defeated by Adil Karimli in his opening bout, putting a quick end to his day.
Ontario’s Keagan Young, who competed in the under-90 kg group, also lost his only match of the day to Japan’s Kosuke Mashiyama. Mashiyama went on to win his next four bouts and was crowned category champion.