Sabau Gabriela/ IJF
Sabau Gabriela/ IJF

Deguchi battles to gold at the Judo Grand Prix in Zagreb

Christa Deguchi has won the gold medal in the -57kg category at the Judo Grand Prix in Zagreb, Croatia.

In the gold medal fight against Georgian Eteri Liparteliani, Deguchi was on attack from the start, but her opponent managed to counter all her advances. With just over two minutes to go in regular time, the Canadian made an ippon, managing to knock Liparteliani on the point of her shoulder.

To advance to the gold medal fight, Deguchi defeated Slovak Kaja Kajzer by ippon in the semi-finals after winning her quarter-final fight against Belgian Mina Libeer by waza-ari in overtime. Libeer went on to win her bronze medal bout against Cuba’s Arnaes Odelin Garcia.

Deguchi benefited from a bye at the start of the tournament before defeating the Polish Arleta Podolak by ippon then the Italian Veronica Toniolo by waza-ari in extra time.

At her only other tournament this year — the Antalya Grand Slam in April — Deguchi finished fifth. At that time it was her first major competition since the 2021 World Championships.

Deguchi had failed to qualify for Tokyo 2020 in June of 2021 after being engaged in a fierce battle with Jessica Klimkait for Canada’s only Olympic qualification quota — a country cannot qualify more than one athlete per weight category — she finished fifth in the 2021 World Championships, which served as the Canadian selection, while Klimkait won the title.

READ: Klimkait wins gold and Olympic ticket at World Judo Championships

The Zagreb Grand Prix will continue until Sunday. Arthur Margelidon (-73kg), Mohab El Nahas (-81kg) and François Gauthier-Drapeau (-81kg) along with Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard (-63kg) will be in action on Saturday, while Shady El Nahas (-100 kg) and Kyle Reyes (-100kg) will take to the mats on Sunday.