Christa Deguchi: back on top in Baku
Montréal, November 4, 2022 – Christa Deguchi had only one thing in mind Friday: getting on the top step of the podium at the Baku Judo Grand Slam in Azerbaijan. While the task wasn’t easy, the Canadian judoka rose to the challenge and finished with gold, making her vision a reality.
Deguchi had a perfect day – winning the grand final in overtime against Portugal’s Telma Monteiro, the latter ranked 11th by the International Judo Federation (IJF), and the second seed in the Under 57 kg draw.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve won a Grand Slam medal, but I got myself there today. It was a tough day, but I kept my focus until the very end. I’m very happy with my performance,” commented the fourth seed in the category, after the tournament.
Penalized early in the bout, the 27-year-old Albertan wasn’t phased, and stuck to her game plan. Slowly but surely, she regained the lead – especially after her opponent got caught up twice prior to the end of four minutes of regulation time.
Then, in overtime, the Canadian judoka continued to put pressure on her opponent until at last, her strategy paid off. Monteiro received a third shido for non-combativity, conceding the title to an assertively fighting Deguchi – the 2019 World Champion – in the process.
“I was able to come from behind and adapt well to the situation. I knew she was going to try to avoid my hold, so I continued to exploit that tactic, and I was patient, and ended up getting the win. That’s what made the difference,” Deguchi explained.
Never two without three!
Christa Deguchi defeated Hungary’s Kitti Kovacs on Friday before beating Italy’s Veronica Toniolo and Britain’s Lele Nairne in overtime to earn a spot in the final bout.
The Canadian won a third straight duel in overtime to claim her third gold medal of the year after winning the Grand Prix in Zagreb (Croatia) in July, and the Commonwealth Games (United Kingdom) a few short weeks later.
Friday’s triumph comes almost a month to the day after the World Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where Deguchi was upset in the third round… good thing there’s no better remedy to defeat than an unquestionable victory. Now, Deguchi is ready to face her upcoming matches with renewed confidence and excitement.
“I wanted to bounce back after the World Championships and I couldn’t do better than that. Normally I tend to want to go too fast in overtime, but not today. I relied more on my game plan and my skills. Overall, this is another positive experience that will help me achieve my goal of returning to the podium at Grand Slams and Worlds,” she concluded.
Younger sister Kelly Deguchi falls in bronze medal round
Also in action on Friday in Baku was Kelly Deguchi (Christa’s younger sister), and who did not have the day she hoped for in the Under 52 kg category. She was defeated in the first round by home-country judoka Sita Kadamboeva, who won by waza-ari in overtime.
The latter Uzbekistani athlete then reached one of the bronze finals, and ended up concluding the tournament on the third step of the podium.
Commenting on the Canadian day, Coach Antoine Valois-Fortier said, “It’s a shame for Kelly, but what bodes well is that she fought hard and came very close to winning. She needs something to click inside to start winning, but we’re confident that it’s coming.”
Amazing judo action will resume early Saturday morning on the tatamis at the Baku Grand Slam, and two more Canadian judokas will give it their all in their quest to take top honours. Arthur Margelidon will be competing in the Under 73 kg category, while teammate Mohab ElNahas will try to win the Under 81 kg category.
Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada