Kyle Reves celebrates after winning gold in the -100kg category at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam on October 23, 2022.International Judo Federation
International Judo Federation

Reyes secures bronze, Team Canada brings home five medals from judo Grand Slam in Tel Aviv

An excellent week for Team Canada ends with judoka Kyle Reyes on the podium. He took bronze in the men’s -100kg category at the Judo Grand Slam in Tel Aviv, Israel on Saturday.

The 2022 World Championship silver medallist took advantage of an error by hometown favourite Peter Paltchik to win by Ippon.

Benefiting from a bye in the first round of Pool D, Reyes defeated Briton Harry Lovell-Hewitt in his first duel, but bowed out in his next to Italian Gennaro Pirelli, sending him to the repechage.

He recovered well, winning his last two fights to add a fifth medal to Team Canada’s harvest at this Grand Slam. Canada finishes the weekend second overall with two gold, one silver and two bronze medals.

Also in action in the -100 kg category, Shady El-Nahas fell in his first fight.

Beauchemin-Pinard wins gold

Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard earned her third career IJF Grand Slam gold medal as she took the title in the women’s 63kg event in Tel Aviv, Israel on Friday.

The Olympic bronze medallist, currently ranked first in the world in her weight class, needed just two minutes and 30 seconds to defeat Cuba’s Maylin Del Toro Carvajal by ippon in the final.

This is Beauchemin-Pinard’s first international podium since she won silver at the IJF World Championships in October. She now has six career medals on the Grand Slam circuit.

Also on Friday, François Gauthier Drapeau won a bronze medal in the men’s 81kg event. After winning his pool, Gauthier Drapeau lost his semifinal bout, putting him into a bronze medal match against Joao Fernando of Portugal who came through the repechage. The Canadian won that bout in just two minutes by ippon.

This is Gauthier Drapeau’s fourth career Grand Slam medal, all of which are bronze. He reached the podium for a second straight tournament, having also won bronze at the Grand Slam in Paris earlier this month.

Klimkait defeats Deguchi for first time

On Thursday, it had been an all-Canadian final in the women’s 57kg event.

In a battle of former world champions, Olympic bronze medallist Jessica Klimkait came away with the victory, defeating teammate Christa Deguchi.

The two women pushed each other in a tight final bout that went well past the four minutes of regulation time. After more than four minutes of golden score time, Klimkait was credited with a waza-ari to get the win.

This was the first time Klimkait defeated Deguchi in a head-to-head matchup. They last met in the final of the Antalya Grand Slam in 2021 when Deguchi earned her sixth straight win against Klimkait.

The two Canadians went to Tel Aviv holding onto the top two spots in the 57kg world rankings, with Deguchi in first place by just 200 points over Klimkait.

Deguchi was the first Canadian judoka to ever win a world title when she claimed the crown in 2019. Two years later, Klimkait became the world champion which secured for her Canada’s lone Olympic berth in the women’s 57kg event for Tokyo 2020.

This is Klimkait’s fifth career Grand Slam victory and her 12th medal of any colour in Grand Slam events. Her last win on the Grand Slam circuit came in April 2022 in Antalya, Turkey. She hasn’t missed a podium in any international event since February 2020. The silver brings Deguchi’s career Grand Slam medal count up to eight.

Competition will continue in Tel Aviv through Saturday. Canada’s contingent also includes reigning world silver medallist Kyle Reyes in the men’s 100kg event.