First Taste of Gold for Kyle Reyes in Abu Dhabi
Shady ElNahas Wins Bronze Despite Injury
Montréal, October 23, 2022 – In his twelve career Grand Slam appearances, Kyle Reyes had stepped onto the podium three times, and always in second place. But in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, he went all the way, being crowned champion in the under-100 kg weight category. It was a remarkable tournament for the Ontarian, who was accompanied on the podium by his teammate Shady ElNahas, who won bronze.
“I’m so happy to finally win a gold medal!” stated Reyes, following the medal ceremony. “My performance at the worlds really gave me a confidence boost for today’s tournament, but I didn’t change anything in my preparation.”
After receiving a bye in the first round, the defending runner-up world champion defeated Francisco Balanta of Colombia by ippon in his first match. He then edged out Otabek Turaboev of Uzbekistan and Nurlykhan Sharkhan of Kazakhstan to advance to the semi-finals.
A win by waza-ari over Asley Gonzalez of Romania allowed Reyes to move on to the big final.
“I was really stressed out before the final. It was the first time I was up against [Nikoloz Sherazadishvili], and I was expecting a difficult fight,” said Reyes. Sherazadishvili, of Spain, was the 2018 and 2021 world champion.
With 1:45 left in the final bout, both judokas received shidos. Sherazadishvili was then disqualified following an illegal throw, and the Canadian clinched the title.
“I first wanted to get used to his style of judo before attacking near the end. I’m really happy with the result! Also, it was the first time I got to stand on a Grand Slam podium with Shady. We both did a good job and we want to keep the momentum going.”
Another bronze for Shady ElNahas
ElNahas, who won bronze medals in Abu Dhabi in both 2019 and 2021, also got off to a great start on Sunday, with successive wins over Avtar Singh of India and Dzhafar Kostoev of the UAE.
The Canadian then earned a third straight victory when his opponent Mathias Madsen of Denmark was disqualified in the quarter-final. ElNahas, who suffered a knee injury during the sequence, advanced to the semi-final, where he bowed out to Sherazadishvili, who would later win gold.
He then successfully fought Elmar Gasimov of Azerbaijan for bronze.
“My injury limited my attacking options, so I had to fight smart. I had to use my brain instead of my body!” said El Nahas. “My coach Sasha Mehmedovic and my brother Mohab came up with a game plan, so I followed it and won the match. I had to adapt to the situation and come up with a different solution.”
Gasimov received three penalties during the fight. The first two were issued at the beginning of the bout, while the final one was issued 41 seconds into overtime.
“It feels weird to have won three bronze medals in a row in Abu Dhabi. You always want to improve with each tournament, so I would have liked to leave here with a different colour this time,” said the Ontarian, who was nevertheless pleased to share the podium with his teammate.
“I wasn’t surprised to see Kyle in the final. In fact, I thought we might even end up fighting each other! Kyle and I are in the same weight class, but we’re still good friends, and I was happy to see a Canadian at the top of the podium,” he concluded.
Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada
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