Jessica Klimkait can proudly boast of being a pioneer in the world of Canadian women’s sports.
The 26-year-old from Whitby, Ontario, made Canadian judo history in Tokyo when she became the first woman to win an Olympic medal representing Canada in July 2021.
“That has been a goal and a dream for me, not only to attend the Olympic Games, but to be on the podium. Obviously, I would have preferred the top step of the podium,” he told The Associated Press at the time. Devin Heroux of CBC Sports.
Klimkait, who began the sport at age four, was disappointed to lose in the semifinal to Sarah Léonie Cysique of France as the highest-ranked judoka in her weight class.
“I came here with gold in mind. That was my goal,” Klimkait said. “At the end of the day, I’m happy I was able to bounce back after that loss and come away with a medal.”
WATCH Klimkait became the first Canadian woman to win an Olympic medal in judo:
Just a month before the Games, the Canadian won gold at the world championships in Budapest. It was only the second time a Canadian judoka had won a world title, after Christa Deguchi in the same weight class in 2019 in Tokyo.
Klimkait has never left the podium in the competition since, winning consecutive bronze medals in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in 2022, and Doha, Qatar, in May 2023.
“Bronze wasn’t what I expected or what I trained for, but I’m proud that I kept my focus after my loss to make sure I was on the podium at the end of the day,” Klimkait reflected on this year’s edition in a instagram post.
“Sometimes your losses give you the opportunity to learn more about yourself. My goal remains the same and I will continue to move forward and work hard.”
The results let the world know that Klimkait remains among the best in the sport.
For the Canadian herself, it also serves as motivation to continue improving as she tries to earn a spot to represent Canada at next year’s Paris Olympics.
“One of Jessica’s strengths is that she is always looking for ways to improve and already had some solutions in mind. [after her quarterfinal loss] for their next bouts,” Antoine Valois-Fortier, Judo Canada’s national coach, said at a Judo Canada meeting. Press release.
“Although I came here wanting more, I am happy to know that I am consistent year after year,” Klimkait added.
Klimkait also boasts an impressive record in the International Judo Federation Grand Slam, having amassed six gold, four silver and five bronze medals since his debut in 2017.
Securing an Olympic berth would be a no-brainer for both Klimkait and Deguchi, a 27-year-old born in Japan, as the Canadian teammates are among the elite in the women’s -57kg category.
However, there is a limit of just one judoka per division per nation, meaning only one of them will pack up and fly to the French capital, depriving Canada of a clear medal contender.
Judo Canada had decided that whoever finished highest in the competition would automatically receive the Canadian spot for Tokyo.
It is your discretion to determine a criterion to resolve the matter, including hosting a single event to determine who will represent Maple Leaf on the Olympic stage next.
In 2023 in Doha, Deguchi won gold at the world championships, while Klimkait won bronze. The 2024 edition will take place before the Paris Olympic Games.