SANTIAGO, Chile — Shady El Nahas, the Egypt-born Canadian heavyweight judoka, likes to be called “Slim.” Jt like rapper Eminem, who inspires his nickname, the athlete also likes to speak his mind.
The 25-year-old El Nahas on Monday won the only judo gold medal for Canada so far at the Pan American Games. The final day of judo competition is Tuesday.
Asked what his plan was to defeat Chile’s Thomas Briceño — and the home crowd — in the final, El Nahas was straight forward.
“Beat him up,” the judoka said. “No, I am joking. I knew the crowd was going to be against me. But I ed that as motivation and I wanted to play smart.”
El Nahas, who arrived in Chile saying he was injured after taking the bronze medal at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam last week, won by a match-ending ippon. He finished fifth at the Tokyo Olympics, and looked ready for a better finish next year in Paris.
Despite getting some insults from the fans during the final, the Canadian left the room under applae after hugging Briceño, raising his defeated opponent’s right arm and asking those on the stands to applaud. Briceño himself took pictures with El Nahas in the backstage area and thanked him on social media.
“There are defeats that bring more dignity than a victory,” the Chilean judoca said over a picture of him posing with the Canadian, who didn’t hide his excitement after his victory.
“We definitely needed a gold medal for Canada in judo, I am glad I could bring this home,” the judoka said.
Brazil, which should compete with Canada for the second place in the Pan American Games medal table, won seven gold medals in the sport in Santiago.
El Nahas started in judo at age 4 in Egypt, following his older brother, Mohab, also a judoka and a bronze medalist at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima. He moved to Canada at age 12 and later began taking part in competitions. His move to North America also triggered his love for basketball.
“I am better at judo, though,” said El Nahas, a big fan of Kobe Bryant and a part of Canada’s judo team since 2018. “I am definitely excited about the Olympics, I will give 100% for that medal too.”
El Nahas was raised in Toronto, then moved to Montreal to train.
An important reminder from the judoka: his name, unlike Eminem’s nickname, is pronounced SHADD-ee, not SHAY-dee.
“But you can call me Slim,” he added.
Image credits: AP