One year from the Paris Games, Teddy Riner, unsinkable, wins his eleventh world star


Teddy Riner, during his victory against the Japanese Tatsuru Saito at the Doha Worlds (Qatar),…

One year from the Paris Games, Teddy Riner, unsinkable, wins his eleventh world star

One year from the Paris Games, Teddy Riner, unsinkable, wins his eleventh world star

Teddy Riner, during his victory against the Japanese Tatsuru Saito at the Doha Worlds (Qatar), Saturday May 13, 2023. Teddy Riner, during his victory against the Japanese Tatsuru Saito at the Doha Worlds (Qatar), Saturday May 13, 2023. KARIM JAAFAR / AFP

If the titles of world champion in judo were symbolized, as in the NBA which he loves, by rings, Teddy Riner would not have enough of his two hands to display his rewards. Returning to the world championships after a six-year absence, the French judoka won his eleventh world championship title on Saturday May 13 – in the + 100 kg category. A little over a year from the start of the Paris Olympics, the ultimate goal of his immense career, the Olympic champion from London and Rio took the best in the final over the Russian – fighter under a neutral flag – Inal Tasoev, in the arena in Doha (Qatar).

If Riner brought the seventh medal to the tricolor camp of these Worlds, earlier in the afternoon, his compatriot Julia Tolofua won silver in + 78 kg, narrowly losing to Japan’s Akira Sone, the reigning Olympic champion.

Coming to gauge himself on the tatami mats of Doha, Teddy Riner got his answers. As often since the beginning of his career, the 34-year-old athlete left only crumbs to his opponents. “These world championships will allow me to find competition, to position myself in relation to this competition”, he ured before the competition. With a single objective, to increase in power until the appointment that he has ticked in red on his calendar: the Olympic Games in Paris. “What I don’t want is to arrive at the Games and miss out on this event”he insisted.

As a result of his long periods of absence, the ten-time French world champion occupied, on Saturday morning, only the 17e world ranking rank. Not being part of the top seeds, Teddy Riner was forced to start his day with a preliminary round. “No matter how many fights there are to do, the objective is to get the guys, to train, because for me, even if it’s Worlds, it will be a day of ‘coaching “stated the tricolor heavyweight before joining Doha.

After two first rounds ped without incident – ​​if not a double warning during his initial fight, quickly evacuated – the Guadeloupe came up against Mongol Odkhuu Tsetsentsengel in the round of 16. A sacred client, 23 years old, and winner in February of the Grand Slam of Tel Aviv (Israel). Facing the Mongolian world number 4, Teddy Riner was forced to play extra time, winning after three minutes of golden score – additional period added in the event of a tie.

A “training day” on the road to the Games

“Testing oneself means taking the best of the moment. And there for once, it will be the case “, observed Riner’s coach, Franck Chambily, interviewed by AFP on Friday. The quarter-finals put on the road of his colt the vice-champion of the Japanese world, Tatsuru Saito. At 21, the great Japanese hope in the category and son of Hitoshi Saito – double Olympic champion in + 95 kg (1984 and 1988) – mistreated his opponent, his eldest of thirteen years. Four more minutes were needed for the French to use and get the best of Tatsuru Saito.

“It’s not an easy draw. But that’s what we’re here forwarned the tricolor coach. The Olympics are coming at high speed and it’s going to be a very good test. » In terms of speed, his protege accelerated in the semi-finals, dispatching the Tajik Temur Rakhimov in twenty-seven seconds. A performance given the course of the tenfold world champion, and the fact that his opponent, sent to the mat without further ado, occupies the place of world number one.

Already absolute record holder of world crowns, Teddy Riner did not miss the opportunity to win a new one in the final. Opposed to the Russian Inal Tasoev, reinstated like his compatriots and the Belarusians this year on condition that they compete under a neutral banner, the Frenchman took his time, ending up winning after nearly four minutes of golden score, where he came close to the defeat.

Back on the planetary scene, six years after his last coronation (in 2017), Teddy Riner found “his” place there on Saturday: at the very top. The one who had been forced to give up the previous edition following an ankle injury, had made himself rare on the tatami mats, but had resumed his march forward in February, in winning – for his return to business – the Grand Slam de Paris. “The old man is still there, and as long as it lasts”, he ured then. At 34, the “old man” reminded the competition that the road to the Olympic title in Paris still ped through him. “Frankly, I feel better and better on this road which will still be quite long towards the Olympic Games in Paris., he noted before flying to Qatar. I am well, I find beautiful colors. »


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If he had ured that his trip to Doha was nothing but a “training day” in view of the Paris Olympics, the one who multiplies internships abroad to prepare against opponents other than the French has spent a golden day. The most successful judoka in history, Teddy Riner adds another line to his list – two individual Olympic titles, one for teams, and eleven world titles now. While waiting for Paris, and a hypothetical third individual Olympic gold medal as the end point of his immense career, Teddy Riner will be able to have an eleventh golden star embroidered on his kimono, above his heart.

Clement Martel

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