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Deguchi wins all-Canadian final for back-to-back Grand Prix gold
28 Jul 2018 12:00
Christa Deguchi of Canada won her fifth competition in a row and fifth in 2018 to continue her run through the category and up towards the summit of U57kg. Hohhot Grand Prix silver medallist Jessica Klimkait and Paris Grand Slam winner Deguchi – who have been teammates since 2017 – had met twice previously and the latter had won both of those contests which occurred in April and May of 2018.
Their third clash culminated in the same manner as world number 13 Deguchi beat world number 14 Klimkait to close in on a title push at her first senior World Championships in Baku. Klimkait was disqualified after picking up three shidos as Canada dominated a star-filled weight division at the Grand Prix in Zagreb.
“It was a hard fight, but I was happy to be against each other only in the finale. We proved that Canada was strong in our category!” said the gold medallist. “It’s a big win for me, but that’s only the beginning. I’m focusing on World Championships and the Olympic qualification.”
Deguchi didn’t know how to tackle her fight against Klimkait. “I didn’t know what I’d do with her. At first, I realized that I couldn’t get a good grip, so I wouldn’t be able to throw her. I changed my strategy to make her get shidos.”
Her victory made Klimkait finish second. “I’m a very active fighter, so I thought she’s try to immobilize me. I was ready to pick up the pace, and to counter the attacks,” said the silver medallist. “It was close; it could have been any of us. In that kind of situations, small mistakes make a big difference.”
“It was really tight,” said the national team head coach, Michel Almeida. “Both of them will be fighting for the only spot on the team for the Olympic Games in Tokyo in their category, and it’s only the beginning. With how things are going, it’ll be a tough one. We’re hoping it’ll give us more podiums like today!”
In the first semi-final Deguchi again haunted her former team as she beat Grand Prix debutant Funakubo Haruka (JPN). Deguchi opened the scoring with a waza-ari and held down her rival with a kuzure-kesa-gatame for her second and match-winning waza-ari. In the second semi-final Olympic champion Rafaela Silva was thwarted by Hohhot Grand Prix silver medallist Jessica Klimkait (CAN) by the margin of a single waza-ari score.
The first bronze medal was won by Düsseldorf Grand Slam silver medallist Karakas Hedvig (HUN) who outlasted Silva after five minutes of golden score. Silva picked up a third shido in added time for passivity to gift a bronze medal to her long-time rival.
The second bronze medal was won by ne-waza specialist Funakubo who held down European champion Nora Gjakova (KOS) in golden score. Funakubo outfought Gjakova when it came to the groundwork and the Japanese pinned her down with osaekomi-waza for ippon to capture her first senior medal on the IJF World Judo Tour.
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Canadian Christa Deguchi successfully defended her Paris title with a win over teammate and World Judo Masters bronze medallist Jessica Klimkait in the U57kg final. The duo are locked in a battle for Canada’s one potential spot at the Olympics next year with both ranked well inside the world’s top 10 on the IJF ranking list. Read more
Kaesey Milton (NED)