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Christa Deguchi (CAN): The great comeback story of the year!
23 Jun 2018 01:30
Christa Deguchi was a rising star in Japanese judo winning a bronze medal at the 2013 Ljubljana World Junior Championships. Later that year she competed in her first Tokyo Grand Slam where she defeated Brazil's Rafael Silva for the bronze medal. She capped off a good year with a gold medal at the 2013 Jeju Grand Prix.
She did even better in the 2014 Fort Lauderdale World Junior Championships where she collected a silver medal (losing only to her compatriot Momo Tamaoki in the final). The future seemed bright for Deguchi. The only problem was that she was in the -57kg division, which was at the time had two top-level judo athletes from Japan who were still active: World Champion Udaka Nae and World and Olympic Champion Kaori Matsumoto.
After the 2014 World Junior Championships, Deguchi suddenly disappeared from the international competition scene and did not fight in any IJF World Tour events for the next three years. In judo terms, three years is an eternity to be away. It looked like Deguchi's international judo career had stalled before it really even got started.
She reemerged in late 2017 competing in the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam but this time representing Canada (one of her parents is from there). She lost in the first round. A few months later she competed in the 2017 Tokyo Grand Slam. Again she lost in the first round. Her switch to Canada didn't seem to be bearing fruit but within just a few months, she would find her stride again.
Starting with the 2018 Odivelas World Cup in February until the recent 2018 Hohhot Grand Prix, Deguchi has been unbeaten. This includes an impressive 2018 Paris Grand Slam gold medal (where she defeated former compatriot Tsukasa Yoshida, who had replaced Matsumoto as Japan's top -57kg fighter). After that she won the 2018 Pan American Championships as well as the 2018 Hohhot Grand Prix (in which she had beaten her old rival from Japan, Tamaoki, the player who had beaten her at the 2014 World Junior Championships final).
What we're looking at is a string of 18 consecutive victories this year. This is no fluke and Deguchi is definitely someone to look out for in the World Championships later in the year.
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