A Whitby woman will be competing on the world stage next month in Japan.
Jessica Klimkait booked her ticket to the Tokyo Olympic Games after winning the gold two weeks ago at the World Judo Championships.
“My life has always been centred around judo,” said Klimkait.
Klimkait first set foot on the mat at four years old. Now, 20 years later, she’s headed to her first Olympic Games next month in Japan.
“I moved to Montreal, I changed a lot of things about what I do day to day just to really focus on judo and to be able to go to the Games and represent Canada and to be able to come up through the Canadian system, it’s really important to me,” said Klimkait.
Earlier this month, the Whitby product qualified for Tokyo by winning the World Judo Championships.
While she drew on her experience of coming out on top at the under 18s eight years ago, Klimkait says to get to this point, one of her greatest opponents has been the pandemic.
“I still have to train, I still have to be in shape but nothing’s open. I really had to sit down and learn a lot about myself as an athlete and what I need, so I created my own training plan with help from my coaches and did the most that I could every single day,” said Klimkait.
Becoming an Olympian has been a dream and something Klimkait’s strived for since she started judo at the Ajax Budokan Judo Club.
Her former coach of 13-plus years, the club’s chief instructor Kevin Doherty is a two-time Olympian.
“She had a lot of zip, she had more energy than anybody on the mat and she never missed a practice; she would come to every single practice no matter if we had a practice on a Sunday or a Friday. She would never say anything to us, she was the first one on the mat, last one to leave,” said Doherty.
No Canadian has won Olympic gold in Judo. Klimkait hopes to change that, and says she’s in a good position to bring home some hardware.
“To come home with a medal would just mean that I went there and did exactly what I should do,” said Klimkait.
Klimkait will train in Montreal over the next few weeks before heading to Tokyo and going for gold on July 26.