Ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, it was widely believed that Christa Deguchi would be chosen to represent Canada in the U57 kg category instead of Jessica Klimkait.
They are both closely ranked by the IJF, with Deguchi regularly ranked first and Klimkait second. The exits have a better record, but they were so close internationally that Judo Canada decided to host a special three-match play-off to decide who will compete in the Tokyo Olympics.
Covid-19 disrupted those plans, and it was ultimately decided that the 2021 World Championships would be used to decide who went. At the time, pundits generally believed that exports might win.
She is the 2019 world champion, has won the Pan American Championship twice and has nine IJF World Tour gold medals. At that time Krimket had won a Pan American Championship and won five IJF gold medals. But other than that, Deguchi’s 6-0 win over Klimkait in every international event was excellent.
Klimkait surprised everyone by becoming the 2021 world champion. This qualified her for the U57 kg class on the Canadian team heading to Tokyo. At the Olympics, while she didn’t win a gold medal, she did get a creditable bronze.
Since the Olympics, Kerimket has competed in the 2022 Antalya Grand Slam, where he won gold. Exit also participated in that event, but she failed to win a medal, losing in the semi-final and bronze medal match.
This is just one competition, and there are more competitions to play in the next Olympic cycle. Will she be able to beat and surpass Klimkite over the next two years?
It’s hard to tell, as Klimkait also seems to have peaked. But it’s worth noting that Exit is a real fighter. Before representing Canada, she fought for Japan. She is a promising player, winning gold at the 2013 Jeju Grand Prix, bronze at the Tokyo Grand Slam and silver at the 2014 World Junior Championships.
However, she competed during the Kaori Matsumoto era and had no chance to represent Japan in any international competition after the World Youth Championships in October 2014. She didn’t compete again until October 2017, although this time for Canada.
She initially struggled, losing her first matches at the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Slam and the 2017 Tokyo Grand Slam. However, she quickly found her footing and won her next tournament, the Odivolas World Cup, followed by another victory, this time at the prestigious 2017 Paris Grand Slam. on the competition.
Exit would go on to win more events and reached the pinnacle of her career by beating Japan’s Yuki Yoshida at the 2019 World Championships in Tokyo.
So, after such a major setback early in her career, she really bounced back. Can she do it again? Although her teammate and rival Klimkait will challenge her at every move, it’s definitely possible.