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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Masters gold finally for Jessica Klimkait

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“It was a remarkable day for Jessica, probably the closest thing to a perfect day. She was excellent in every way, dominating all of her opponents. She set the tone from her first fight and never took her foot off the gas until her ultimate victory,” commented Coach Antoine Valois-Fortier.We could legitimately expect a first 100% Canadian semi-final between the reigning world champion Christa Deguchi and her teammate Jessica Klimkait, who, because of their respective world rankings, were in the same half of the draw. The clash between the two Canadian contenders for an Olympic qualification was going to be electric but it didn’t happen since Deguchi fell at the start against the experienced Telma Monteiro (POR) who had also eliminated Jessica Lima (BRA) during the first rounds. It was nothing very harmful for Deguchi but one can imagine the frustration of not being able to continue in the tournament.With the premature passing of the reigning world champion, Klimkait did not let her luck slip away and she went to the final, defeating Ivelina Ilieva (BUL), Lele Nairne (GBR), Priscilla Gneto (FRA) and finally Pauline Starke (GER) in the semi-final.Defeating Nekoda Smythe-Davis in the next round, Daria Bilodid then faced the Olympic silver medallist Sarah Léonie Cysique (FRA), in great form since the first rounds. The quarter-final went to the Frenchwoman. The latter, on her way, made short work of Haruka Funakubo (JPN) in the semi-final, throwing her with a superb harai-goshi chained directly to an immobilisation; classic, efficient and beautiful.”In the final, we knew that the French judoka had excellent physical skills, and Jessica wanted to use her speed and dynamism to be able to overcome her. She was aggressive from the very start and was able to score the winning point that way too,” added the Canadian coach.The bell sounded and each took a breath ready for the golden score period. It took Klimkait just 12 seconds to power under Cysique with a morote seoi-nage that finally registered. With almost a pause, Klimkait caught extra rotational momentum and propelled the Olympic silver medallist on to her back. Gold for Canada and silver for France was the final result of the day.For her part, Christa Deguchi – also in the Under 57kg category – was defeated in her first bout of the day by Portugal’s Telma Monteiro, suffering a rib injury in the process. Kelly Deguchi (-52 kg) was also limited to a single bout on Friday, losing to Italy’s Odette Giuffrida.Daria Bilodid (UKR) and Pauline Starke (GER) completed the final block, qualifying for the second match for a bronze medal. After Bilodid was awarded a first score from an o-soto-gari that was then cancelled, she secured another one and without any doubt, to take the lead. The result seemed to be sealed but Starke scored her own beautiful waza-ari with a counter-attack, followed with an immobilisation, but she could not hold it long enough. It was time for a golden score period between a Bilodid running out of steam and a determined Starke. 30 seconds into  extra time, Bilodid as the champion she is, found the resources to launch an o-uchi-gari for a clear ippon this time.In the lower part of the draw, some first rounds were very promising, such as the one between former Olympic champion, Rafaela Silva (BRA), and former double world champion and Olympic medallist Daria Bilodid, a poster worthy of a world or Olympic final. It was at the end of the suspense and after a very committed match from the two champions that Bilodid finally won with a counter-attack during golden score.The final for women U57kg at the IJF Masters in Budapest was a dynamic stalemate with the hip throws of Cysique and the dropping shoulder throws of Klimkait, each the nemesis of the other. The styles were so different, the statures too, almost like two different categories. Attacks from one and then the other and at a decent pace, all the way to full time with only one shido on the board, against the French athlete. After three IJF Masters bronze medals in 2018. 2019 and 2021 finally the gold medal for Klimkait.The French team did not settle only for the Cysique final, as Priscilla Gneto (FRA) qualified for the bronze medal contest against Japan’s Haruka Funakubo (JPN) but in golden score it was Haruka Funakubo who took the win with an opportunistic ko-soto-gari for ippon.

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