Montreal, October 23, 2020 – Jessica Klimkait didn’t waste any time climbing back onto the international podium on Friday. At the Budapest Grand Slam, the 23-year-old from Whitby defeated her four opponents by ippon to claim the gold medal in the Under-57 kg category.
“I felt really good recently with the training I was doing, but it was hard for me to tell if that would be applicable to the international stage,” she said. “There was no place that I could prove it to myself, so once they announced the tournament, I felt really excited. It’s nice to see that it wasn’t just in my head. I’m really happy with how I fought.”
|Photo: IJF, Gabriela Sabau
Jessica Klimkait, third from left.
In today’s final, Klimkait dominated over France’s Hélène Receveaux, the bronze medallist at the Budapest World Championships in 2017.
In her first three rounds, Klimkait beat all her competitors by ippon. Her first adversary of the day was Flaka Loxha of Kosovo, followed by Ivelina Ilieva of Bulgaria. The semi-final, which set her against Hungary’s Hedvig Karakas, lasted longer than her first two bouts, but she pushed through to the final with ease.
Klimkait, who is ranked second internationally in the Under-57 kg class behind her countrymate Christa Deguchi, described today’s event as “the most interesting” of her career due to the circumstances brought about by the pandemic.
Regarding her victory, she explained that “to have this feeling at my first competition back is really motivating and shows me that what I’ve been working on has been taking me in the right direction […] The strange training conditions of the past few months have pushed me outside of my comfort zone and I’ve definitely grown. I feel like I’m a more mature athlete and that I understand more about my judo.”
Canadian coach Sasha Mehmedovic was clearly delighted with Klimkait’s performance.
“I can honestly say that she didn’t have a challenge today. She was unstoppable and had a perfect day. It was nice to see. She beat some top world-ranked girls and I was very pleased to see that every game plan we applied worked. She wasn’t in danger in any match.”
Will Jessica’s performance serve as inspiration for her teammates who will be competing on Saturday and Sunday?
“As a coach, that’s what I’m hoping for!” Mehmedovic concluded.
Saturday’s action will see Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard (-63 kg), Arthur Margelidon (-73 kg) and Antoine Valois-Fortier (-81 kg) representing Canada on the tatamis.
Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada
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