Jessica Klimkait Digs Deep to Clinch Tough Bronze Medal Final
Montréal, October 8, 2022 – Jessica Klimkait is departing the Judo World Championships in Tashkent with not only a bronze medal, but also with fresh experience she believes will make her an even better competitor in the future.
Defending world champion Klimkait, who is currently second in the International Judo Federation (IJF) world rankings, squared off against top ranked Timna Nelson Levy of Israel in one of the under-57 kg bronze medal finals on Saturday.
The Ontarian made sure to end her day on a high note. She dominated Nelson Levy, who was powerless to fend off her numerous attacks. With thirty seconds left on the clock, Klimkait scored a second waza-ari to secure the win.
“I knew my opponent really well and I knew I had to follow my game plan to the letter. To counter her strengths, I had to dictate the pace of the fight, using my own judo and my holds. That worked well from the very beginning, so I set my own pace. In the end, my holds made the difference for the win,” explained Klimkait who, in the process, won her fifth straight fight against Nelson Levy.
However, the day was not a walk in the park for the Canadian, who had to work hard to reach the quarter-finals, where she was caught off guard by South Korea’s Mimi Huh, as well as by “very quick calls” by the officials. In fact, it was the officials who determined the outcome of the match, which ended following a third shido to Klimkait.
“Of course it’s frustrating. No one wants to lose that way. But it’s been like that for the whole tournament, and I wasn’t able to find my pace during that fight,” she added. “The officials gave out a lot of penalties, and I just didn’t do enough to win it.”
However, the defeat served to ignite the 25-year-old, who refused to dwell on the loss. In the repechage, she ousted Eteri Liparteliani of Georgia by ippon before securing the bronze medal a few hours later.
“Things didn’t start out the way I would have liked, but my quarter-final loss gave me a chance to clear my head, dig a little deeper, and find motivation to make it to the podium,” said Klimkait, who considers the experience a valuable lesson for the future.
“My main goal is to make it to the top of the podium, and I’ve got some things to work on. My objective is always to keep improving, and this competition will allow me to do exactly that.”
Also in the under-57 kg category, Christa Deguchi got off to a great start, winning her first two fights by ippon against Mariah Holguin of the USA and Zouleiha Abzetta Dabonné of Côte d’Ivoire.
However, the 26-year-old Albertan, who won the world title in the same weight category in Budapest in 2019, was eliminated in the third round following a bout that lasted over 11 minutes. In a controversial conclusion to the match, her opponent Enkhrilen Lkhagvatogoo of Mongolia was declared the winner after Deguchi received a third shido.
“That last penalty was debatable. We think the match could have gone either way. It was a very physical fight and Christa did well, but she’s the one who got the shido. The girls were not spared today,” commented coach Antoine Valois-Fortier, following Deguchi’s loss.
Lkhagvatogoo went on to win a bronze medal in her fight against Mimi Huh of South Korea, while the gold medal went to Rafaela Silva of Brazil, who defeated Japan’s Haruka Funakubo in the grand final.
Arthur Margelidon (-73 kg)was the only Canadian male in action on day two of the Tashkent World Championships. The Québécois opened with two hard-fought wins over China’s Daga Qing and Cuba’s Magdiel Estrada to advance to the quarter-finals.
In that round, Margelidon faced tournament third seed Tsogtbaatar Tsend-Ochir, the same judoka who denied him the podium following their bronze final match at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Despite receiving two shidos and facing constant pressure from Margelidon, Tsend-Ochir was able to drag out the bout and upset the Canadian at the very end of regulation time.
“I really thought I had scored earlier, but the officials didn’t award the point, and [Tsend-Ochir] took advantage of an error on my part to get me into an arm lock. It’s frustrating because I was fighting well, but at this level, you can’t make errors,” said the 28-year-old judoka at the end of the day.
Margelidon had a chance to get back on track in the repechage, but was unable to defeat Hidayat Heydarov of Azerbaijan, who is currently second in the IJF rankings. Heydarov bided his time before scoring a waza-ari in the final seconds of regulation time and claiming the victory.
“During that fight, it was the same thing. I dominated a good part of it, but I made a position error and he used it to his advantage,” added Margelidon. “It’s too bad, because other than those two errors, I fought almost perfectly today.”
However, the Canadian was not out of the woods yet. He then had to watch his opponents make their way to the podium at the end of the day. Heydarov finished with a bronze medal, while Tsend-Ochir was crowned world champion after defeating Soichi Hashimoto of Japan in the grand final.
Margelidon finished seventh in his weight division—his highest career ranking at the World Championships. He is far from satisfied with his result, however. He is now looking ahead to his upcoming events, where he aims to be nothing less than perfect.
“Overall, I’m not very satisfied, but I can see the positive elements in today’s fights. I don’t want to dwell on the past, so I’m focusing on my next tournaments. I won’t feel sorry for myself and I’ll use the negative experience as motivation for the future. The goal is to finish first, so I’ll correct my errors and keep working hard until I get there,” he concluded.
On Sunday, Canadians Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard (-63 kg) and François Gauthier-Drapeau (-81 kg) will hit the tatamis in an effort to add more medals to the country’s haul.
Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada