It was an action-packed day for Canada at the opening of the Pan American Championships in Panama. Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard and Jessika Klimkait faced off in the U57 kg final on Friday evening. In the end, it was Klimkait who climbed to the top of the podium.
Before they met up in the final, both Klimkait and Beauchemin-Pinard had perfect records in the tournament. In her quest for the gold medal, Klimkait, had halted the progress of Guatemala’s Yennifer Dominguez, Panama’s Miryam Roper, and Cuba’s Anailys Dorvigny.
Beauchemin-Pinard, had beaten Ecuador’s Diana Villaviencio, Cuba’s Aliuska Ojeda, and the U.S.A.’s Marti Malloy as she made her way to the final.
“Other than my final match, it was my best day of competition since my return from the Olympic Games. I still have things to work on, but I relied on what I practiced during training,” stated the Québécoise.
An error by Beauchemin-Pinard in the final allowed Klimkait to take control of a sequence and score a waza-ari before time ran out.
“I’m very happy with my victory. Because we train together every day, we know each other really well. I think I kept up a pretty fast pace, and I tried to keep speeding it up as we advanced through the bout. That probably helped,” noted Klimkait.
“Of course, it’s a bittersweet feeling to win against one of my own teammates, knowing we both came here with the same objective, but that’s how it goes,” she added.
Beauchemin-Pinard couldn’t hide her disappointment after the match, but she’s happy for her teammate. “Jess is a real rising star right now. She’s at the top of her game. As for me, I’m making a slow comeback from the Games, so she and I are not in the same headspace right now. She’s definitely proven herself. It was a tight match,” explained Beauchemin-Pinard.
Although she would have preferred not to compete against a teammate in an international tournament, Beauchemin-Pinard sees the positive side of the all-Canadian final.
“It was foreseeable. Of course, it’s never ideal, but there is a positive side to it: it shows that we have a strong national team. It’s not like I could develop my own personal strategy. We train together and we push each other. It’s going to give me the little shove I needed to work even harder,” said the former Rio Games Olympian.