There is no elephant in the room, it’s the subject everyone has been talking about since the beginning of the qualification period and we are going to continue talking about it! It is still not cut and dried though, even at the end of their world championship, thanks to the intervention of Mimi Huh (KOR).
Mimi Huh (KOR).

The world number 1 and number two at -57 kg, both Canadian, both world champions, Deguchi and Klimkait, have brought the Olympic selection right down to the wire. It’s unthinkable that one won’t be able to go but the same happened in the Tokyo cycle and it was Klimkait who won the domestic battle on that occasion. In this Paris cycle the race is even tighter but Christa is leading and isn’t crumbling under the pressure of pole position.

On day 2 in Abu Dhabi she drove a thunderbolt through the category, throwing and holding without hesitation. Libeer (BEL) was thrown in just over a minute with an exacting osoto-gari. Esteves (GUI) received the same but for a waza-ari and so the hold came too. Nelson Levy (ISR) could have posed a problem but didn’t, not for a second. A tomoe-nage and another osoto-gari sent her packing in just 44 seconds. Against Tamaoki (JPN) in the semi-final, she threw with a seoi-otoshi, just missing the best landing, and then succeeded in the tricky job of holding her ground until the clock ran out. That put Deguchi into the final before knowing what her teammate was up to.

Deguchi (CAN) throwing Tamaoki (JPN).

Klimkait, the number two seed, seemed under much more pressure from the beginning of the day, to be expected as she was the chasing judoka, after all. A waza-ari from a seoi-otoshi against Beurskens (NED), a tactical win over Podolak (POL) and another over Lkhagvatogoo (MGL) deep into golden score, put Klimkait into the semi-final but it had been far from a dominant run.

Klimkait throwing Podolak (POL).

The semi-final was fought against 21 year old Mimi Huh (KOR) who had already dispatched European champion Kurbonmamadova (AIN) with a throw and Toprak (AZE) by shime-waza. She threw and held Aminova (UZB) to win the quarter-final.

Klimkait (CAN) vs Huh (KOR).

In their semi-final, Huh began with her usual high pace and inside 40 seconds already had a score on the board. Klimkait spent the remainder of the contest watching her Olympic aspirations dissipate. It s an immensely difficult weight to carry, knowing how much that single contest result can affect one’s future and Klimkait was clearly unbalanced by it.

The first bronze medal contest was therefore fought by Timna Nelson Levy and Jessica Klimkait, who, it must be said, came out to win, totally re-composed. This is the mark of a real champion. Olympics or no Olympics, Klimkait has an Olympic medal already, a world gold and she also has world class mental toughness.

Klimkait threw Nelson Levy with a seoi-otoshi in the opening exchange and from that second the two fighters increased the intensity and went all in. It was a physical, fast-paced contest but in the end only that first waza-ari made the difference and Klimkait took her third world bronze medal. There would be two Canadians on the podium yet again.

Klimkait throws Nelson Levy for bronze.

The second bronze medal contest featured double world bronze medallist Lkhagvatogoo (MGL) and world silver medallist Momo Tamaoki (JPN). This was a close contest, eventually won by Tamaoki on penalties. The Japanese judoka has a great deal of experience and in the end that made the difference, ensuring the flag of the rising sun would fly in the Emirates today.

Lkhagvatogoo (MGL) loses out to Tamaoki (JPN) dfor bronze.

The spectators were in for a long final between Deguchi and Huh and there was no indication of who would come out on top until the last second. Decided on penalties and with the conditioning of both fighters at impressive levels, it was not quite the big finish we hoped for but the world of judo found itself a new champion. The Korean youngster, Mimi Huh, was emotional as she bowed off and ran to her coach, Mi-Jung Kim, Olympic champion.

Final (-57 kg)

Medals, cheques and flowers were presented by Mr Albano Carrisi, IJF Ambassador and world-famous singer and songwriter, and Mr Faris Al Mutawa, Secretary General of the UAE National Olympic Committee
See also