“There are no guarantees in judo” – François Gauthier-Drapeau

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Rising Stars Make Their Mark in Germany

Canadians François Gauthier-Drapeau and Mohab ElNahas both faced upsets in their first and only bouts of the day in the under-81 kg draw at the Tbilisi Grand Slam in Georgia on Saturday. It was a frustrating and disappointing outcome for the two judokas, but one they will use as motivation for their next competitions.

Although Gauthier-Drapeau stuck to his game plan throughout his match against Askerbii Gerbekov of Bahrain, he ultimately came up short. After his opponent scored a waza-ari in the middle of the bout, the Québécois attempted to increase the pressure; however, the tactic turned on him when Gerbekov grabbed him in an arm lock, scoring an ippon to end the fight.
“I know him well and I had a good idea of what to expect. Unfortunately, he countered one of my attacks and scored a weird point. After that, I kept on attacking and I built up a good pace, but it just wasn’t enough. In the end, I decided to go all out, but when I put my arm out, he took advantage of it,” explained Gauthier-Drapeau, following his bout.
The Canadian, who is eleventh in the world rankings and who won bronze medals at his last two Grand Slams, then had to watch as Gerbekov, who is ranked 44th, continued his run to fifth place after losing one of the bronze medal finals.
“It’s frustrating for me, because I didn’t feel like I was going to lose the fight,” he added. “I was able to do my judo, and I did what I needed to do, but it just wasn’t quite enough. There are no guarantees in judo. A fight can go in any direction, and rankings don’t always mean much!”
His teammate Mohab ElNahas found himself in a similar situation after losing his first and only match of the day by ippon to Abylaikhan Zhubanazar of Kazakhstan, who later won the silver medal. Wachid Borchashvili of Austria clinched gold in the category.
Antoine Bouchard also lost his first fight of the day to Kote Kapanadze of Georgia in the under-73 kg weight category.
Although they are disappointed, the three Canadian judokas will not have to wait long for their next competitions. Next weekend, they will be back on the tatamis at the Antalya Grand Slam in Turkey, where they will have a chance to rebound from today’s setbacks.
“We’re already thinking ahead and we’re looking forward to training this week, so that we can work on our mistakes. We’ll keep practicing so we can come back stronger,” concluded Gauthier-Drapeau.
But meanwhile, he will cheer on his teammates Louis Krieber-Gagnon (-90 kg) and Shady ElNahas (-100 kg), who will compete on Sunday, the final day of the Tbilisi Grand Slam.
Three medals in Germany
Several other Canadians were in action on Saturday at two tournaments in Germany. Eleven male judokas competed at the U18 Masters Tournament in Bremen, two of whom finished on the podium. Yehor Paladii and Tigran Kryvytskyi won gold and bronze, respectively, in the under-81 kg class.
“They were fantastic today! They’re young, they’re very talented, and we were very happy to see them on the podium. They have a lot of potential, and this type of result makes the future look promising,” stated national team coach Sasha Mehmedovic.
Loic Beaton (-55 kg), Elisey Sokolov (-73 kg), Oleksandr Kaplin (-90 kg) and Matys Rainville (+90 kg) advanced to the repechage in their respective weight categories, but did not rank.
Similarly, Vincent Nepton (-60 kg), Denis Neyolov (-60 kg), Fahd Fithane (-66 kg) and Artem Neyolov (-73 kg) each ended their day with two wins in three bouts. Vincent Roberge-Poitras (-66 kg) lost his only fight of the day.
A little further north in Germany, 21 female Canadians competed at the International Cup in in the town of Bad Blankenburg in Thuringia.
Four advanced to the bronze medal finals: Charline Bourque (-70 kg) and Marianna Karas (+70 kg) in the U18 age group, and Marie-Lune Turmel (-48 kg)and Heidi Quach (-48 kg) in the U21 group.
Turmel was the only one to step onto the podium, while her teammates all finished fifth.
Laurence Gagnon (-52 kg), Leanna Au (-52 kg) and Alyssa Tkachenko (-57 kg) were the only other judokas to win bouts in the Cadet category (U18). In the Junior category (U21), Evelyn Beaton (-52 kg) won three fights and Loika Robertson (-63 kg) won one.
Avery Gibney (-52 kg) and Margot Chevalier (-63 kg) lost their first matches of the day in the U18 group.
Their compatriots Charlize Isabelle Medilo (-48 kg), Ekaterina Danilkov (-48 kg), Sarra Bourihane (-52 kg), Violette Louet (-52 kg), Mahée Savoie (-57 kg), Hailey Ko (-57 kg), Catherine Toshkov (-57 kg), Aliya Koliaska (-57 kg), Karas Kodelia (-57 kg) and Laurence Biron (-70 kg) met the same fate in the U21 category.
Biron, Danilkov, Savoie and Kodelia received a second chance in the repechage, but to no avail.
Although the International Cup in Thuringia is now over, the action will continue in Bremen on Sunday at the U21 tournament, where seventeen Canada athletes will hit the tatamis.


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