Montréal, October 22, 2022 – François Gauthier-Drapeau came very close to stepping onto the podium at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday. After taking the lead in his under-81 kg bronze medal match, the Canadian attempted to double down to clinch the bout, but his plan backfired and he finished in fifth place.
In his final bout of the day, Gauthier-Drapeau was pitted against Mihail Latisev of Moldova. Just over a minute into the fight, he scored a waza-ari, but his opponent quickly retaliated to tie up the match.
“I had worked out a strategy with my coach, and I wanted to play it safe because [Latisev] is a pretty fast opponent. But I let myself get carried away and I took unnecessary risks,” explained Gauthier-Drapeau.
He tried the same manoeuvre that had allowed him to score a few times before, and it almost worked again. However, Latisev was able to counter him and score an ippon to end the fight.
“I should have used a variety of attacks be more unpredictable,” admitted Gauthier-Drapeau, following the match.
This past summer, the 24-year-old did not achieve the results he had wished for and he hoped to make a comeback of sorts in the United Arab Emirates. His first few bouts helped him regain confidence and apply some of the lessons he had recently learned from his coaches.
“My confidence was kind of lacking, so I took some time to brush up on my skills. I felt pretty good today. I wanted to get back on track and I was glad to have another chance.”
In the early rounds of today’s tournament, Gauthier-Drapeau won his first two matches against Adrian Gandia of Puerto Rico and Aurelien Bonferroni of Switzerland, but was unable to repeat the feat against Zelim Tckaev of Azerbaijan.
The loss sent him to the repechage, where he defeated Frank De Wit of the Netherlands to advance to the bronze medal final. He now plans to pursue his training, with the firm intention of achieving strong finishes in his upcoming competitions.
“I made some errors, but I’m trying to look on the bright side. I could have won that last one. I’ll have to improve my tactical skills,” he concluded.
In the same weight division, Mohab El Nahas finished the day with a record of two wins and one loss. He defeated Lachlan Moorhead of Great Britain and Eljan Hajiyev of Azerbaijan before bowing out to Latisev.
Arthur Margelidon was scheduled to fight in the under-73 kg category on Saturday but did not compete.
The Abu Dhabi Grand Slam will continue on Sunday. Shady El Nahas will be in action in the under-100 kg weight class, as will Kyle Reyes, who won a silver medal at the most recent World Championships.
Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada
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