Rafaela Silva, who won the Rio 2016 Olympics, caused a stir in the judo community in October when she dominated the U57kg category at the Tashkent World Championships to secure her second world title, almost a decade after her first victory in Rio in 2013. She continued her success with a silver medal at the Portugal Grand Prix and a gold medal at the Antalya Grand Slam, which put her in a favorable position to defend her world title in Doha. However, Hasret Bozkurt (TUR), who was ranked 61st in the world, had different plans.In the initial match for the bronze medal, Huh and Lkhagvatogoo faced off against each other. Both competitors had difficulty penetrating each other’s defenses, and there were very few attempts at throws that came close to scoring. Ultimately, Huh made a small error by breaking an illegal grip, resulting in her receiving a third penalty and giving Lkhagvatogoo her second world bronze medal in two years.Klimkait and Bozkurt competed for the other bronze medal, but Bozkurt didn’t have a happy ending to her great day. Klimkait’s skill was evident as she executed her famous seoi-nage move to score waza-ari. She then held Bozkurt in kesa-gatame for ippon, earning her second world bronze medal in two years alongside Lkhagvatogoo. Bozkurt should still be proud of achieving her best career result, and her future looks promising at only 22 years old.The third day of the World Judo Championships in Doha was full of surprises. Christa Deguchi from Canada won the world title, defeating Haruka Funakubo in the final. Funakubo took home the silver medal, just like last year when she lost to Rafaela Silva. Canada had a successful day, with Jessica Klimkait winning bronze for the second consecutive year.During the final match, Deguchi dominated Funakubo with two impressive attacks that caught the Japanese athlete off guard. The first attack was a hopping o-uchi-gari within the first minute, followed by a cross-grip ashi-guruma in the second that threw Funakubo through the air. Funakubo was surprised and couldn’t recover. Deguchi earned her second world title, four years after her first, in a remarkable fashion.Silva was one of only two individuals to defeat Christa Deguchi (CAN) in 2023. The other person was Jessica Klimkait, a fellow Canadian who won the Olympic bronze medal and was chosen to compete in the Games instead of Deguchi. This competition was likely to determine which of them would represent Canada in the next Olympic Games in Paris. Klimkait lost in the quarterfinals to Enkhriilen Lkhagvatogoo from Mongolia, which opened up Deguchi’s path to the final and the Olympic spot. She skillfully threw her way past each of her opponents to reach this point.During the second round, she utilized a powerful one-handed o-soto-gari to defeat Pardayeva (TKM). She then followed up with ura-gatame in ne-waza to score a second time. In the third round, she faced a tougher opponent in the form of world silver and bronze medallist Smythe-Davis (GBR). As the 4-minute mark approached, the Canadian had already accumulated two shidos, and it seemed likely that a third was imminent. However, with only 3 seconds left on the clock, Deguchi executed another rapid one-sided o-soto-gari to score ippon.In a swift 90 seconds, the Turkish fighter put an end to Silva’s title defence. Bozkurt made her intentions and abilities clear from the first exchange, using o-uchi-gari to score waza-ari. She then finished the job with a forceful one-sided o-soto-gari, leaving Silva stunned.In the first half of the competition, Haruka Funakubo from Japan dominated her opponents with her ne-waza skills. She strategically defeated Galitskaia from Azerbaijan in round 2 and Huh from South Korea in the quarter-finals. She also won by osae-komi against Kajzer from Slovenia in round 3 and Bozkurt in the semi-finals, who was a surprise contender. Bozkurt had already defeated Olympic champion Silva and Tokyo 2021 champion Gjakova with a powerful ura-nage throw. However, Funakubo quickly won the semi-final match against Bozkurt by avoiding a yoko-otoshi attempt and transitioning into yoko-shiho-gatame for a victory in less than a minute.During the quarter-final match, Sarah Leonie Cysique (FRA), who won a silver medal in the Olympics, faced off against Deguchi. Deguchi won the match with two low o-uchi-garis, each scoring waza-ari, bringing her winning record against Cysique to 4-1. In the semi-final, Deguchi faced last year’s world bronze medallist Lkhagvatagoo, who had previously won against Klimkait and Nelson Levy (ISR) through aggressive attacks. Despite this, Deguchi remained calm and threw Lkhagvatagoo immediately with de-ashi-barai and later used the same o-uchi-gari as earlier. Her determination to score ippon instead of just winning tactically made her stand out from the other competitors.
Deguchi has returned to her esteemed position in Canada.