Madrid tournament a tougher challengethan excepted

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Montréal, June 9th, 2024 – The young Canadian judo team experienced a harder weekend than expected at the European Open in Madrid, as the level of competition was higher than usual. Among the six participating athletes, only two will leave the Spanish capital with a triumph: Quebecers David Popovici (-81 kg) and Laurence Biron (-63 kg).

Photo: Judo Canada
The Canadian Team in Madrid.

Every other competitor was eliminated after their first bout.

Twenty-eight-year-old Ontarian Mohab Elnahas (-90 kg), who was the veteran of a squad that was comprised of athletes aged 20 or 21, spoke on behalf of the Canadian team:

“The presence of several Olympic champions in the field made it a very difficult tournament. Everyone is preparing for the Games and we didn’t offer our best performances, but we learned a lot, despite some complicated draws,” commented the Canadian when asked about what was the last tournament before the Olympics for many Europeans.

On Sunday, David Popovici was trailing in his first duel against Frenchman Lou Herbier, but he was able to come from behind and record a score in the last 30 seconds of regulation time.

“In his second fight, he lost to eventual bronze medallist Hievorh Manukian from Ukraine. David was winning, but he made a mistake and got caught. He tried a technique he hadn’t yet mastered and his opponent countered. That error cost him dearly; he could have won the fight otherwise,” commented Elnahas.

Meanwhile, the veteran Canadian was confident he could prevail against France’s Eniel Caroly.

“I held a dominant grip in the first minute and I felt strong. My technique was on point and I was stronger than him with the arms, but I couldn’t get the throw,” said Elnahas.

The reason? His opponent was more massive. “He was much heavier than me. I’ll have to gain more muscle weight.”

On Saturday, Québec’s Laurence Biron (-63 kg) was the only maple leaf representative to earn a victory. She began the day by defeating Esmee Kroon of the Netherlands, only to lose by Ippon to Germany’s Vivian Hermann.

Tylor Collin (-60 kg, New Brunswick), Yanis Hachemi (-73 kg, Québec) and Olivier Gagnon (-73 kg, Québec) all bowed out in their first tussle.

The Canadian team will remain in Spain for a three-day training camp before heading to Slovenia for another European Cup tournament, where the level of play will be slightly inferior than Madrid’s.


Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada

For more information:

Patrick Esparbès
Chief Operating Officer
Judo Canada
(514) 668-6279

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