Jessica Klimkait (Ajax Budokan) has won another gold medal on the IJF World Tour at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam. She was matched in the final against fellow Canadian, and world #1 ranked, Christa Deguchi. This match continues the back and forth battle for an Olympic spot at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Congrats to Jessica and Christa for continuing to dominate the -57kg category on the world stage, and showing the next generation of athletes what's possible with hard training and dedication to the sport.
See below story from Judo Canada:
For the third time this year, Canadians Jessica Klimkait and Christa Deguchi found themselves going head-to-head in a Grand Slam final. Klimkait won the Tel Aviv Grand Slam in February, while Deguchi prevailed in their most recent showdown in Ulaanbaatar in June.
On Tuesday, at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam, it was Klimkait who pulled ahead in the series between the two Canadian rivals, winning the under-57 kg final in overtime and claiming the top spot on the podium.
The two finalists, who know each other very well, squared off in a battle that resembled a major chess game, with every move calculated to avoid leaving an opening.
At the start of overtime, Deguchi had received two shidos to Klimkait’s one. The Ontarian made the most of her slight advantage, remaining patient and cautious in her attacks until Deguchi received a third penalty for non-combativity.
“It was a very tight, very tactical fight between the two best under-57 kg judokas on the planet! The win is great for Jessica’s points, as well as for her confidence,” said Canadian coach Antoine Valois-Fortier.
Klimkait began her journey to the top of the podium with a first-round bye. Next, she defeated Fidan Alizada of Azerbaijan, individual neutral athlete Daria Kurbonmamadova, and Seija Ballhaus of Germany in back-to-back bouts.
As for Deguchi, she ousted Ophélie Vellozzi of France, Lele Neirne of Great Britain, and Pauline Starke of Germany before crossing swords with Klimkait in the final.
“Both of them had a great day, and both won close fights in the semi-finals. They showed great strength of character and proved they’re still ahead of the competition in many respects,” added Valois-Fortier.
In the under-52 kg weight division, Kelly Deguchi lost her first and only bout of the day to Ariane Toro Soler of Spain.
“It’s been a disappointing day for Kelly. She got caught in a waza-ari at the beginning of the bout, and wasn’t able to recover afterwards. She’s going to want to get back on track as soon as possible,” concluded the coach.
The Abu Dhabi Grand Slam will continue on Wednesday. Quebeckers Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard (-63 kg) and François Gauthier-Drapeau (-81 kg) will both be in action.