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Tokyo Grand Slam – Michal Popiel makes a promising return

Montreal, December 9, 2011 – Of the three Canadians in action, Friday, at the Tokyo Judo Grand Slam, Michal Popiel came away with the best performance in the Japanese capital, a 9th place finish.  Registered in the under 66 kg division, the Montreal native finished with a record of two wins and one loss on the day.  His teammates Sasha Mehmedovic (-66 kg) and Charles Breton-Leduc  (-60 kg) received no classification, after both were eliminated in the first round.

Popiel saw his run come to an end in the 1/8 final, where he fell to the no.2 ranked judoka in the world, the Mongol Miyaragchaa Sanjaasuren.  In the first two rounds, Popiel defeated the Ukrainian Hevorh Hevorhyan, followed by the Australian Ivo Dos Santos.  The under 66 kg final saw the Japanese Tomofumi Takajo take down the Russian Musa Mogushkov for the gold medal. 

“It was a solid performance by Michal.  After two months of inactivity due to injury, he won his first two matches, in extra time no less, national coach Nicolas Gill explained.  Despite the fact that the judoka who beat him in the third round was an ex-world champion, Michal still put up a good fight, right up until the end. It’s nice to see him get back on track here in Tokyo; during his injury he’s watched a lot of precious points go by the wayside, points that could have gone to an eventual Olympic qualification.” 

Also in the under 66 kg class, Sasha Mehmedovic lost a heartbreaker in overtime to the Brit Colin Oates, semifinalist at the last World Championships.

“Sasha was dominating the first seven minutes of the fight, but right at the end he tried to do a little too much, which resulted in a fatal counter-attack,” the coach illustrated.

For his part, Charles Breton-Leduc was shown the door by the Brazilian Breno Alves.

Saturday, Nicholas Tritton (-73 kg), Antoine Valois-Fortier (-81 kg), Kalem Kachur (-81 kg) and Alexandre Émond (-90 kg) will all be in action on the tatamis.