Klimkait becomes Canada’s first female Olympic judo medallist

Jessica Klimkait won bronze at Tokyo 2020 to become the first Canadian woman to win an Olympic medal in judo.

The reigning world champion and world number one in the women’s 57kg division, Klimkait received a bye through the first round and started her day by defeating Ivelina Ilieva of Bulgaria by ippon in the Round of 16. She followed that with a victory by ippon over Julia Kowalczyk of Poland in the quarterfinal.

That set her up for a semifinal meeting with Sarah Leonie Cysique of France, ranked sixth in the world. Neither judoka could score an offensive point in the four minutes of regulation, during which Klimkait was penalized twice for false attacks.

Jessica Klimkait stands with her bronze medal wearing her Team Canada jacket and mask.
Canadian Jessica Klimkait wins a bronze medal for judo during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Monday, July 26, 2021. Photo by Stephen Hosier/COC

They went into Golden Score time, during which Cysique received two penalties, or shidos, for non-combativity. That put them both in a position where another penalty would cost them the match. Just over three minutes into Golden Score time, Klimkait received another shido for a false attack, giving Cysique the victory and the chance at gold.

Klimkait ended up in a bronze medal bout against Kaja Kajzer of Slovenia, ranked 15th in the world. This bout also went scoreless into Golden Score time, during which Klimkait got a waza-ari for the victory.

All five of Canada’s previous Olympic judo medals were won by men, starting with Doug Rogers‘ silver at Tokyo 1964 when the sport made its Olympic debut at the Nippon Budokan, the same venue where Klimkait had her history-making moment. The most recent medal was Antoine Valois-Fortier‘s bronze at London 2012.