Two Canadians Halted by Silver Medallists in Zagreb
Montréal, August 20, 2023 – Two of the four Canadians in action at the Zagreb Grand Prix in Croatia were halted in their tracks this weekend by future silver medallists.
After receiving a first-round bye on Saturday, Quebec’s Yanis Hachemi defeated Italy’s Edoardo Mella by waza-ari in the under-73 kg weight class. In the next round, he lost by ippon to Messaoud Redouane Dris of Algeria, who was later awarded the silver medal after bowing out to Jorge Cano Garcia of Spain in the final.
Ontario’s Mohab ElNahas, acting as spokesperson for the Canadian team, commented on the performance of his 21-year-old teammate, who could well have clinched the bout.
“Yanis was winning, but he got thrown in the final ten seconds. The Algerian he almost defeated was the strongest guy in the category, because he beat all the Olympians in the draw.”
On Sunday, in the under-90 kg weight division, ElNahas was himself denied victory by a future silver medallist.
He began his day by defeating Ukraine’s Artem Bubyr by default, only to be edged out in the next round by Turkey’s Mihael Zgank, who won the match when ElNahas received a third penalty.
“[Zgank] is a friend of mine. We’ve fought each other many times at training camps, and I know his fighting style very well. I felt stronger than him, and physically, I had no problem getting a good grip on him. But his ground technique involved getting onto his back, so each time, I didn’t have time to attack. I’m a bit frustrated, because I felt like I was the stronger fighter.”
Zgank used the same approach in each round, causing his opponents to be penalized for non-combativity.
“He didn’t perform a single throw all tournament, but it worked for him, and he was lucky this time,” added the 27-year-old Canadian, who will depart Croatia with a bittersweet feeling. “I got to test myself against [Zgank], who is one of the top ten in the world. Next time, I just have to attack first, and I really think I could beat him.”
Zgank advanced all the way to the final, where he lost to Krisztian Toth of Hungary and finished the day with the silver medal.
Also in under-90 kg action, Ontario’s Keagan Young lost to Tigo Renes of the Netherlands in the first round.
“Keagan fought well, and he scored a waza-ari in the first exchange of the bout. His opponent, who’s a head taller than me, then scored two waza-ari. [Renes] then remained on the defensive, taking advantage of that,” explained ElNahas.
In the under-81 kg category, David Popovici lost his first and only bout of the day to Andrey Pirolo Del Rosso of Serbia.
ElNahas will now head to Portugal to take part in a tournament on the European circuit. His three teammates will return home to Canada.
Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada
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