A fight-off between Canadian judokas Christa Deguchi and Jessica Klimkait to determine a single qualifying spot for the Tokyo Olympics isn’t necessary.

Klimkait took care of matters Tuesday morning by advancing to the women’s under-57 kilogram final at the world championships in Budapest, Hungary while Deguchi lost to Momo Tamaoki of Japan in another semifinal.

Klimkait, 24, will face Tamaoki in the final after 11 a.m. ET while Deguchi, the defending world champion, will fight for bronze. The 25-year-old, who lives and trains in Japan, is expected to be named as an alternate for the Canadian Olympic team.

Only one athlete per country per weight class can compete at the Summer Games this summer, according to International Judo Federation rules.

Canada’s public health regulations during the coronavirus pandemic have kept judo competitions on hold so Judo Canada has been unable to host winner-take-all matches usually held when two athletes are ranked inside the world’s top eight. Deguchi and Klimkait, 24, entered worlds ranked 1-2.

When COVID-19 halted sports across the world in March 2020, Klimkait and Deguchi were months away from a fight-off for Canada’s lone Olympic quota spot, and then Klimkait suffered a knee injury.

Dominant in world semis

“It honestly was [good timing] because I needed those two or three months to fully recover and if the year continued as normal, I definitely wouldn’t have been able to train as normal,” Klimkait told CBC Sports last November. “I wouldn’t have been able to compete and I had a fight-off with [Deguchi] that I don’t think I would have been able to prepare for.”

Last fall, Judo Canada high-performance CEO Nicolas Gill, a two-time Olympic medallist, dismissed the suggestion of having one of either Klimkait or Deguchi change weight classes so that both might compete in Tokyo. He said he would never put the organization ahead of the athlete.

“We would do that only if it helps the state of making weight,” Gill said. “That’s the only time we would force somebody to move up — if we feel there is danger for the athlete, but not for strategic positioning.”

Klimkait, who captured a gold medal last year at the Grand Slam in Budapest, proved too strong for Nora Gjakova of Kosovo in the early stages of Tuesday’s semifinal.

WATCH | Klimkait reaches top of podium in Budapest:

23-year-old Jessica Klimkait of Whitby, Ont,, defeated Helene Receveaux of France to capture gold in the 57-kilogram category at the judo Grand Slam competition in Budapest. 8:44

The Whitby, Ont., native delivered a waza-ari that was later upgraded to ippon by a video referee in the opening two minutes.

In the quarter-finals, Klimkait overcame Germany’s Theresa Stroll, who battles Deguchi for bronze.

Tamaoki downed five-time world medallist and 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Telma Monteiro before defeating Deguchi, who dropped the semifinal match by waza-ari after absorbing a blow to her nose.


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