Another Gold Medal for Canada in Abu Dhabi 25 October 2023
“When I look back, I think I’ll be proud of this medal.” – Julien Frascadore 29 October 2023
Having watched three Canadian women win medals this week at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam—two gold and one silver—
Shady ElNahas was eager to add a contribution from the men. And that’s exactly what he did on Thursday in the United Arab Emirates, taking third place in the under-100 kg category.
Ontario’s ElNahas put in a superb performance today, earning a spot in one of the two bronze medal finals. In his fifth and final fight, he wrapped up his long day with a win by ippon over Michael Korrell of the Netherlands. “I had never before fought [Korrell], who has been one of the top three in the world for quite a while, so throwing him with a big ippon was the icing on the cake! I’m proud of my performance,” said ElNahas of his final bout of the day. According to ElNahas, it was his best tournament of the season, despite a knee injury. He emphasized that the support he received from his team all day Thursday played a big role in his performance. “I want to give full credit to Antoine [ Valois-Fortier, Canadian coach]. He changed my mindset for this tournament, and he motivated me to push for the win. There was also my physiotherapist Tiffany [ Hunting], who took care of my knee so I could compete, and my teammate Louis Krieber-Gagnon. They’re my dream team.” “Shady was feeling some doubt after his loss, but he wanted to see his day through. Everyone handled the situation well so that he would be able to continue, and that was the right decision,” explained Valois-Fortier. ElNahas began the tournament with back-to-back victories over Nurlykhan Sharkhan of Kazakhstan and Jean Carletti of Italy. In the quarter-final, he lost by ippon to Serbia’s Aleksandar Kukolj, who later won the silver medal, before bouncing back in his first repechage bout with a win over Germany’s Louis Mai, who had defeated Kyle Reyes in the Ontarian’s first fight of the day. ElNahas will have no time to rest following this week’s tournament, as he is already on his way to Santiago, where he will compete in the Pan-American Games in three days’ time. His long journey to Chile will include three flights in 24 hours and two stopovers. In the under-90 kg weight division, Quebec’s Krieber-Gagnon finished with a 1-1 record and did not rank. He defeated Ayan Baigazy of Kazakhstan in his first match, but later bowed out to Nemanja Majdov of Serbia, who finished the day with the gold medal. The Canadian team will depart the United Arab Emirates with four medals: Jessica Klimkait’s gold in the under-57 kg category, Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard’s gold in the under-63 kg category, Christa Deguchi’s silver in the under-57 kg category, and Shady ElNahas’s bronze. “We won four great medals, but everyone still has things to work on. This was one step on the long road to qualify—and the compete in—the Olympics. You win, you improve, and you come back even stronger,” concluded the Canadian coach.