With gold medals to their credit on Friday evening in Calgary, Christa Deguchi and Julien Frascadore led the Canadian delegation, which secured a total of four medals on day one of the senior tournaments at the Pan-American/Oceania Championships.
Despite having been injured last month, Deguchi did not falter once on the tatamis at the WinSport Complex. Following two expeditious early wins, the reigning world champion and top-ranked judoka in her weight division triumphed over Brazil’s Rafaela Silva in the big final. Silva is ranked fourth in the world.
“I was a bit wary going into my final bout. At that point in the competition, I wasn’t feeling my best, whereas my opponent seemed to be in top form. In the end, I stuck to my game plan and was able to score in the final minute to come away with the gold,” commented Deguchi, after receiving her medal.
Visibly exhausted at the end of a grueling day, the Albertan said she was “satisfied with my judo under the circumstances” and, above all, very happy to have been able to compete in front of her most loyal fans.
“Just ten days ago, I didn’t even know if I was going to be able to compete, so this is a great outcome! I really wanted to fight here at home, and I’m very happy to have finished at the top of the podium. It wasn’t perfect, but I got to show the younger athletes that it’s possible to reach this level and to win international medals in Canada,” concluded Deguchi, who will now take some time to rest before resuming her competition schedule next month.
Also in the u57kg weight category, Jessica Klimkait’s hopes of battling her teammate for gold were dashed in the semi-final, where she lost to Silva by ippon. Nevertheless, the Ontario native and Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist won her bronze medal match against Kristine Jimenez of Panama, ending the competition on a high note.
Kelly Deguchi (U52 kg) and Isabelle Harris (U63kg), who also participated in the women’s tournaments on Friday, finished with one win and two losses each, placing seventh in their respective categories. Their compatriots Charlize Isabelle Medilo (U48kg) and Evelyn Beaton (U52kg) were both eliminated in their first bouts.
First Pan-American title for Julien Frascadore
On the men’s side, the three Canadians in action today all took part in a final, including Frascadore, who clinched the gold medal in the under-66kg division. After winning his first three bouts of the day, the Québécois had to buckle down hard to secure the first Pan-American title of his career.
Frascadore, who was pitted against Cuba’s Orlando Polanco in the big final, used patience to achieve his goal. Despite several unsuccessful attacks, he maintained his strategy throughout the four minutes of regulation time and prevailed in overtime, when his opponent received a third penalty.
“That was a tough fight! We know each other well and we’re used to fighting each other, so I knew it could take a while. However, I also knew that a long fight would be to my advantage, because I’m in good physical shape. In the end, that’s what made the difference, and I’m very proud of the outcome,” said Frascadore, following the intense tournament.
While he knows that today’s performance will serve him well in the Olympic qualifications, the 23-year-old hopes to go even further in his quest to qualify for the Paris Olympic Games in 2024.
“I came here feeling very confident! I knew I had a very good chance of winning, and now my level of confidence is even higher,” he explained. “My preparation went very well, I’m in excellent shape, and lots of good things have happened in the past few months. It all bodes well for the future.”
Arthur Margelidon also achieved success on Friday in the under-73kg category. In the final battle for top honours, he bowed out to Daniel Cargnin of Brazil by ippon and finished the day with the silver medal.
This article was originally published on www.judoinside.com