July 18th, 2024

Top-ranked Deguchi named to Canada’s judo team over Tokyo bronze medallist Klimkait

By The Canadian Press on June 27, 2024.

Gold medallist Christa Deguchi of Canada poses for a photo during the award ceremony of the women's -57 kilogram class of the World Judo Championships in Tokyo, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. Top-ranked Canadian judoka Deguchi will make her Olympic debut at this summer's Paris Games, while Jessica Klimkait will not get a chance to build on the bronze medal she won three years ago in Tokyo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Koji Sasahara

MONTREAL – Top-ranked Canadian judoka Christa Deguchi will make her Olympic debut at this summer’s Paris Games, while Jessica Klimkait will not get a chance to build on the bronze medal she won three years ago in Tokyo.

Deguchi will represent Canada in the women’s under-57-kilogram category as part of the roster announced Thursday by Judo Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee.

Only one athlete per country is allowed in each Olympic weight class, so Judo Canada knew going into the qualification process that it would have to leave one of its top judokas at home.

Klimkait from Whitby, Ont., is ranked just behind Deguchi in the world rankings for the under-57 kg weight class at No. 2. She won bronze in the classification at the Tokyo Olympics after edging out Deguchi for a spot on Canada’s team.

Deguchi is a two-time world champion (2019 and 2023) who hasn’t missed the podium in an international competition since August 2023, a string of 10 straight tournaments. She has won 11 Grand Slam tournaments since 2018.

She took silver in the under-57 kg category at the 2024 world championships, while Klimkait earned bronze.

Deguchi, 28, lives and trains in Japan, the country of her birth. She has competed for Canada since 2017 through her Canadian father.

The team also includes Montreal’s Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard, who won bronze in the women’s under-63 kg event in Tokyo.

Kelly Deguchi, Christa’s sister, will make her Olympic debut in the women’s under-52 kg event.

The other team members are Toronto’s Shady Elnahas (men’s under-100 kg), Fran├žois Gauthier-Drapeau of Alma, Que., (men’s under-81 kg), Montreal’s Arthur Margelidon (men’s under-73 kg) and Ana Laura Portuondo Isasi of La Prairie, Que., (women’s over-78 kg).

Beauchemin-Pinard, currently ranked second in the women’s under-63 kg category, will make her third Olympic appearance. A five-time gold medallist on the Grand Slam tour – including three in the Paris 2024 qualification period – Beauchemin-Pinard won gold at the 2022 Commonwealth Games and silver at the 2022 world judo championships, his first medal at the event.

“I see the Paris Games as a logical continuation of my hard work over the last few years,” Beauchemin-Pinard said in a statment. “I want to savour every moment leading up to the Games, whether it be the difficult training sessions, receiving my Olympic gear, or even the opening ceremony.

“My ultimate goal is to stay rooted in the present moment each step of the way, and to perform to the best of my abilities on the big day.”

Kelly Deguchi, who also trains in Japan, will make her Olympic debut after winning silver at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Elnahas returns to the Olympics after finishing fifth in Tokyo. A five-time gold medallist at the Pan American Championships, he also won gold at the 2023 Pan American Games.

He took silver at the 2024 world judo championships after having to forfeit the final due to injury.

Margelidon, a seven-time Grand Slam medallist, also finished fifth and is currently ranked ninth in the men’s 73 kg class. He will compete in his second Olympic Games following his fifth-place finish at Tokyo 2020. In 2024, he won gold at the Pan American-Oceania Championships and earned bronze at the Baku Grand Slam, his seventh career Grand Slam medal.

Gauthier-Drapeau and Portuondo Isasi will make their Olympic debuts in Paris. Both won silver at the 2024 Pan American-Oceania Championships in their respective events.

Olympic judo events will be held July 27-Aug. 3 at the Champs-de-Mars Arena.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 27, 2024.

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