ElNahas beats Canadian teammate Reyes for gold in Commonwealth men's judo

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BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom — Canada's Shady ElNahas captured gold in judo on Wednesday — but he had to beat his teammate to do it, which says everything about the strength of Canada's judo team at the Commonwealth Games.

The 24-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., defeated Kyle Reyes of Brampton, Ont., to win the men's 100-kilogram class. Reyes took the silver.

Marc Deschenes of Laval, Que., added to Canada's judo medal haul with a gold in the +100 kilo category. Canada has captured eight judo medals in Birmingham, second only to England (13) and Australia (10).

"I think (Canadian judo) is much stronger than before," said Reyes, who shared a long hug with his friend and rival ElNahas after the bout. "The young kids are getting stronger, I think it'll continue to get stronger and stronger."

Kylie Masse, a four-time Olympic medallist from LaSalle, Ont., captured gold in the 50-metre backstroke in a Games record and then helped the women's 4x100 medley relay to silver, Nick Bennett of Parksville, B.C., captured gold in the Para 200 freestyle, and Josh Liendo of Toronto won bronze in the 50 freestyle.

Sarah Mitton of Brooklyn, N.S., added to Canada's gold medal haul, winning the women's shot put.

Hollie Naughton, who was born and raised in Barnsley, England, but calls Mississauga, Ont., her hometown, became the first Canadian woman to climb the medal podium in Commonwealth squash, winning silver.

Canada is third on the overall medal table with 57 through six days of competition. Australia leads the way with 123, while England is second with 105.

ElNahas's victory came the day after his brother Mohab won judo bronze in Birmingham. And because there were two Canadians in Wednesday's final, the national team coach wasn't in either athlete's corner. So, Shady looked to his older brother for guidance.

"Of course my brother's going to be on my side, so you could see I was kind of looking at him because he's my mentor," ElNahas said. "And he medalled (Wednesday), so I couldn't let him one-up me."

ElNahas, who narrowly lost out on a bronze medal at last summer's Tokyo Olympics, said the experience in Birmingham has been "pretty dope" by comparison.

"I was at the Olympic Games and we couldn't do the opening ceremony or any of the activities," he said. "So I'm glad I got to experience that here. It was amazing."

His next goal, he said is to become the world champion in October in Uzbekistan.

"I was very close last year to winning it," said ElNahas, who lost in the semifinals. "I think every year I just get better, and in a couple of months, I'll be Canada's first (men's) world champion."

Deschenes beat Kody Andrews of New Zealand for gold, despite coming off an injury that saw him undergo surgery a month ago.

"I'm super happy," said Deschenes, who planned to celebrate with a couple of beers on Thursday night. "I finished second at Pan Am Games and Francophone Games so it was fun not to finish second again, but first."

Masse, meanwhile, lowered her own Commonwealth record in winning the 50 backstroke on the final day of swimming. Canada claimed 20 swimming medals — seven gold, seven silver and six bronze — to finish third behind Australia (65) and England (32).

"The 50 is just such a fun event to just not really think and just go as fast as you can," said Masse, who won silver in the 100 backstroke and bronze in the 200 back at the recent world championships. "So I was looking forward to just racing as fast as I could tonight."

Masse teamed up with Sophie Angus, Maggie Mac Neil and Summer McIntosh in the medley relay. Australia beat the Canadians to the wall by 2.15 seconds.

Bennett said his 200 freestyle victory had yet to sink in.

"I guess I haven't fully comprehended it yet, to be honest," he said. "I'm just absolutely ecstatic. (The strategy was) just hunker down. It started hurting by the 100-metre mark, but didn't really matter at that point."

Mitton threw 19.03 metres to win the shot put, catapulting from third to gold with her sixth and final throw. The victory comes on the heels of missing bronze by the narrowest of margins — a tie-breaking countback — at the world championships last month.

"I was going in expecting to get a medal and coming out just shy of that by the closest of margins really hurt," Mitton said. "So came here pretty hungry."

She got off to a rough start on Wednesday, throwing 17.13, more than three metres back of her Canadian record, but inched a bit further with each throw.

"Anything can happen, you've just got to believe in yourself," she said.

Naughton was disappointed with her 3-1 loss to England's Georgina Kennedy in the women's squash gold-medal game, but was emotional when asked about her historic medal.

"You dream of making these milestones for your country, and to walk with being the first-ever female medallist in squash is an unbelievable achievement," she said. "Hopefully in four years time I can make it a gold."

Zachary Gingras of Markham, Ont., captured Canada's first track and field medal of the Games, a bronze in the Para 100 metres. Gingras was a bronze medallist in the 400 in his Paralympic debut last summer in Tokyo.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 3, 2022.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version had an incorrect spelling of ElNahas.

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