An Eye-Opening Day 26 August 2023
Success in Sweden for Canadian Kata 29 August 2023
Mohab ElNahas had a perfect day on Sunday, winning all five of his bouts at the Gaia European Cup in Portugal and claiming the top spot on the podium in only his second competition in the under-90 kg weight division since 2021.
ElNahas earned his spot in the final four thanks to three early wins over Chandler Hill of Great Britain, Daniel Bershadsky of Israel and Mariano Coto Bersier of Argentina. “My first three fights were pretty difficult and strategic. My opponents were very strong and very physical. I was happy to advance past my group and into the next round,” said ElNahas. In the semi-final, the Canadian was up against Artur Kanevets of Finland, an opponent he knows very well, since they were longtime training partners. The match was decided in overtime, where ElNahas made a decisive attack to secure his spot in the final. “It was my toughest fight of the day! When we used to spar in training camps, he always beat me, and he could throw me dozens of times. [Today], I exercised patience, and I brought him in close to finish the job.” In the final against Kornelius Eilertsen of Norway, ElNahas fairly quickly clinched the top spot in the category with an ippon. “I had never seen him before today. He’s very tall and very physical. I wanted to be strategic and attack quickly, and it worked. Strangely enough, it was my easiest fight of the day,” explained ElNahas. After spending the past few years in the under-81 kg category, ElNahas recently made the leap to the under-90 kg category, and he looks forward to working hard to qualify for the Paris Olympic Games, which will take place in just under a year’s time. “I’m glad to have bounced back after a lacklustre performance in Zagreb last week. I showed that I can do well in both categories. When I get back to Canada, I’m going to sit down with my coach to discuss the future. If all goes well, I should be back in December for the Tokyo Grand Slam for my push toward the Olympics.” In contrast to ElNahas, Adriana Portuondo Isasi moved down a weight class, competing in the under-70 kg division for the first time since her return to judo exactly one year ago. She finished the day fifth in her new category after losing to Ekaterina Tokareva of Kazakhstan in one of the bronze medal finals. “I learned a lot this week in Gaia. I realized that the under-70 kg category is definitely the right one for me! I didn’t necessarily plan to change categories, but after five years of physical inactivity, my body has changed tremendously, and I’ve lost a lot of weight. There’s a learning curve, but I’m enjoying it,” said Portuondo Isasi. In the same weight division, Alexandria Lefort finished seventh. Daniel McCristall (-66 kg), Alex Marineau (-81 kg) and Benjamin Kendrick (-100 kg) did not win any of their bouts in Gaia.