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Christa Deguchi won the silver medal at the Antalya Grand Slam in Turkey on Friday. The Canadian put up a good fight in the big final against reigning world champion Rafaela Silva of Brazil; however, her opponent scored a waza-ari at just the right moment to seal her victory in the women’s under-57 kg category.
“Christa had a very good day today, and I could tell she was feeling at ease in her final bout against a normally very tough competitor,” said coach Antoine Valois-Fortier. “It was going well, but the Brazilian, who is left-handed, caught her off guard with an unexpected attack from the right. Kudos to [Silva]. Her timing was perfect, since the clock had almost run out.” During the bout, Deguchi and Silva, who hold second and third place in the world rankings for their weight class, respectively, took some time to study each other, with neither gaining an advantage over the other. In fact, the referee called the two finalists to order a minute into the match due to their lack of combativity. Their grappling game finally yielded results when Silva got Deguchi onto the ground with a minute and a half to go, although she did not manage to score. Thirty seconds later, the Albertan, who won the world championship in 2019, gained partial control of Silva on the ground, and Silva received a second yellow card. With just over 10 seconds to go, Rio Olympic champion Silva threw Deguchi for a waza-ari, and the clock ran out before Deguchi could tie up the match and force it into overtime. In her six international fights against Silva so far, Deguchi has won four. “The two women know each other well and have a lot of respect for each other, so neither wants to get caught up in the other’s game or make any errors,” explained the coach. “Christa played it safe, but all in all, she fought well. Her attacks were better, as was her stance throughout most of the bout. It’s too bad she was caught out at the end, but still, it bodes well for the World Championships in May.” To secure her ticket to the gold medal fight, Deguchi defeated another Brazilian, Jessica Lima, by waza-ari in less than three minutes in the semi-final. Deguchi had begun the day with a first-round bye. In her first fight of the day, she edged out Julia Kowalczyk of Poland. She then defeated Altantsetseg Batsukh of the United Arab Emirates and Cai Qi of China back-to-back to advance to the final four. In the under-52 kg weight division, Christa’s sister Kelly Deguchi saw her day come to an end in the first round when she was defeated by Gultaj Mammadaliyeva of Azerbaijan. Kelly put up a good fight, however, and the match went three minutes into overtime before her opponent was able to get the better of her. The action will resume on Saturday in Turkey. Canadians Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard (-63 kg), Arthur Margelidon (-73 kg), Antoine Bouchard (-73 kg), François Gauthier-Drapeau (-81 kg) and Mohab ElNahas (-81 kg) will all hit the tatamis on Day Two of the tournament.