Jessica Klimkait Wins All-Canadian Final
Montréal, February 16, 2023 – Canadians Christa Deguchi and Jessica Klimkait, who respectively hold the number one and two spots in the International Judo Federation (IJF) rankings in the under-57 kg weight class, found themselves going head-to-head in the grand final of the Tel Aviv Grand Slam on Thursday. After more than eight minutes of combat, Klimkait ultimately prevailed over her countrymate.
The two athletes were neck and neck for most of the fight. They received two penalties each during regulation time, but things really heated up in overtime. In the end, Klimkait scored an ippon to clinch the gold medal.
“Jessica and Christa know each other inside out, so we knew the match would be extremely close. We knew that these two, who are both so committed and so determined, would put on quite a show. It made our job a lot easier,” noted coach Antoine Valois-Fortier, acknowledging that he played a much smaller role in the final.
The path to the top of the podium was a bumpy one for the Tokyo Olympic Games bronze medallist. After winning her two first bouts expeditiously, Klimkait had to battle through two marathon matches in the quarter- and semi-finals.
In the former, the Ontarian defeated Ozlem Yildiz of Turkey by ippon after eight minutes and 20 seconds. She then sparred with Brazil’s Rafaela Silva for nine minutes and 17 seconds in the semi-final before finally ousting her opponent.
“Jessica had to get through some very, very long fights to advance to the final. Once she got there, though, I had the impression it was like a new day. Both athletes had a long break before the final, so I was looking forward to seeing how things would play out on the tatamis,” added Valois-Fortier.
Deguchi was also brilliant during the tournament, as she worked toward her eighth career Grand Slam medal. Valois-Fortier expressed great satisfaction with her strength of character.
“Christa had a fantastic day. She had convincing victories in all her fights, and she was very consistent. That’s what puts her at the elite level in this sport.”
Deguchi defeated Shannon Van De Meeberg of the Netherlands, Jessica Pereira of Brazil, Pauline Starke of Germany and Daria Bilodid of Ukraine before bowing out to Klimkait in the final.
In under-52 kg action, Kelly Deguchi, who won gold at last week’s European Open in Sofia, lost her first and only match of the day in Tel Aviv to Charline Van Snick of Belgium.
The Grand Slam will continue on Friday in Israel. Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard (-63 kg), Arthur Margelidon (-73 kg), Antoine Bouchard (-73 kg) and François Gauthier-Drapeau (-81 kg) will all be in action.
Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada
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