Montréal, November 5, 2022 – Arthur Margelidon had not stepped onto a judo Grand Slam podium in more than a year and a half. On Saturday, however, the Canadian remedied the situation in spectacular style, winning a silver medal in Baku, Azerbaijan, after an almost perfect day of competition.
Margelidon found himself in hostile territory in the under-73 kg grand final, where he was pitted against Hidayat Heydarov of Azerbaijan, currently third in the IJF world rankings and tournament second seed. Nevertheless, Margelidon managed to score first and take control of the fight.
During the first two minutes of combat, he launched numerous attacks, leaving his opponent with little room to manoeuvre. Heydarov struggled to return the offensive.
However, the tide turned in a matter of seconds when the local fan favourite took advantage of a gap in Margelidon’s defense to throw him to the ground and win by ippon.
“He surprised me on a move and I got caught. I was dominating the fight. I felt like I had the upper hand and that the gold medal was within my grasp. Unfortunately, I made a slight error and he capitalized on it,” said the Québécois, following the final match.
That slip-up was the only one of the day for Margelidon, who faced much adversity during the tournament. Following two wins by ippon over Jose Antonio Aranda Olalla of Spain and Vusal Galandarzade of Azerbaijan, the Canadian faced Lasha Shavdatuashvili of Georgia in the quarter-final.
The 29-year-old appeared to have no qualms about facing the number two ranked judoka in the world and 2021 world champion, whom he defeated by waza-ari after four minutes of regulation time.
“He had beaten me twice before, including at the Tokyo Games, but I knew I could take him,” said Margelidon. “My strategy was good. I managed to score early and keep my composure until the end. It was a satisfying win and a confidence booster!”
Things got tougher in the next round, where Margelidon had to dig deep to overcome Murodjon Yuldoshev of Uzbekistan, currently ninth in the world, but a timely ippon in the second minute of overtime gave the Canadian the victory, as well as a ticket to the grand final.
“At that point, nothing is easy,” he continued. “I had beaten him in the past, and I used to same approach to do so again. I dominated the fight without putting myself in any danger, and I attacked at the right moment. It was perfect from start to finish.”
Despite Margelidon’s impressive performance today, a hint of bitterness could still be heard in his tone, as he had come to Baku with one objective only: to win the title. However, he acknowledged he has several positive aspects to build on in order to achieve his goal in his upcoming matches.
“It feels good to be back on track and to have fought several good fights in a row. I’ve been injured a few times in the past year, but I’m feeling more and more able to use my own judo, which shows we’re headed in the right direction. On the other hand, my errors tell me I still have things to work on. It’s always nice to win a medal, but next time, I want gold, so I’m going to work towards that,” he concluded.
The only other Canadian in action on Saturday was Ontario’s Mohab ElNahas, who saw his day come to an early end when he was defeated by Somon Makhmadbekov of Tajikistan in the first round of the under-81 kg tournament.
The Canadian contingent to Azerbaijan will return home in the next few days to begin preparations for the Tokyo Grand Slam, which will take place on December 3 and 4 in Japan.
Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada