Antalya Grand Slam 2024, ROUND OF 16 CAN ELNAHAS vs BEL NIKIFOROV, -100 kgDi Feliciantonio Emanuele
Di Feliciantonio Emanuele

Shady El Nahas wins silver at Antalya Grand Slam

Canadian judoka Shady El Nahas finished with the silver medal in the under 100 kg category on Sunday at the Antalya Grand Slam. Injured after four victories in a row, he was unable to take part in the final against the Portuguese Jorge Fonseca and received the silver medal.

El Nahas, who celebrated his 26th birthday just five days ago, initially emerged victorious from Group C by defeating German Louis Mai, Belgian Toma Nikiforov and Serbian Aleksandar Kukolj. In his semifinal match, he defeated Brazilian Leonardo Goncalves, 12th in the world, with an ippon after only 18 seconds of combat.

This is a second consecutive silver medal for El Nahas, who’s sixth in world rankings and finished second at the Tbilisi Grand Slam in March.

Christa Deguchi strikes gold in Turkey to open Antalya Grand Slam

It was a strong start to the weekend for Team Canada judokas in Antalya, Turkey, headlined by Christa Deguchi’s gold medal win in the under-57 kilogram event on Friday. 

The Lethbridge native won the final bout over Jessica Lima of Brazil, winning in overtime after jumping on the early offensive to put herself in the winning position. 

Capturing her second title of the year on the IJF Grand Slam circuit and 10th of her career, the 28-year-old defeated Austrian Laura Kallinger before going on to beat Guinea’s Mariana Esteves, South Korea’s Juhee Kim and France’s Faiza Mokdar on her way to the final. 

It’s been a solid start to the year for Deguchi, who hopes to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics, having won the event in Baku, Azerbaijan, in February in a final walkover when her opponent, Kosovo’s Nora Gjakova, withdrew due to injury.

Canadian athletes’ success continued into Saturday’s second day of competition, with 26-year-old François Gauthier-Drapeau battling his way to a silver medal in the men’s under-81 kilogram event, marking his seventh career podium and best-ever finish at a Grand Slam event. 

After defeating three opponents through pool competition, Gauthier-Drapeau went on to defeat neutral athlete David Karapetyan in the semifinal before falling to Japan’s Takanori Nagase in the final bout. 

“I’m delighted to have reached the final! Despite the loss, I think I put up a very good fight. I followed the game plan, and it went well. It was a close call,” Gauthier-Drapeau said. “I was completely drained when I got to the final! It was a big achievement and an important step to win my semi-final, and I can already feel that something has clicked for me. I was more aggressive than in my last tournaments going for projections, and it paid off.”

Canada’s François Gauthier-Drapeau battled to a career-best Grand Slam finish on Saturday. (Emanuele Di Feliciantonio/IJF)

Meanwhile, in the women’s under-52 kilogram, Deguchi’s younger sister, Kelly Deguchi, qualified for her pool final before missing out on the final four with a loss to Japan’s Uta Abe, prior to losing in the opening round of the repechage round to Uzbekistan’s Sita Kadamboeva. 

Tokyo 2020 bronze medalist Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard, currently ranked the world’s top judoka in the under-61 kilogram category, punched her ticket to her pool final as well, but fell to Croatia’s Katarina Kristo, forcing her into the repechage rounds, where she then lost to Austrian Magdalena Krssakova.

The Antalya Grand Slam event wrapped on Sunday, as the world tour soon moves on to Dushanbe, Tajikistan from May 3-5, the penultimate Grand Slam event before the World Championships in Abu Dhabi from May 19-24, and the Paris 2024 Olympic competition from July 27- August 2.