Teddy Riner back at the world championships, six years after his last title

Teddy Riner celebrates his victory against the Japanese Hyoga Ota in the final of the + 100 kg category at the Paris Tournament, February 5, 2023.

He is back. Six years after his last world titles (all categories) in Marrakech (Morocco), and Budapest (+ 100 kg), Teddy Riner will aim for an eleventh world title, Saturday, May 13, in Doha. Absent from the last world championships in Tashkent, in 2022, due to a severe sprain in his right ankle, the Frenchman has only played in one competition since the last Paris Tournament in February. He will therefore not be seeded and will not benefit from a protected table.

This situation does not dampen the enthusiasm of the Guadeloupean: “No matter how many fights you have to go get the guys and take it as a practice. I’m going to step up and have fun, because that’s what drives me after all these years. »

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For Teddy Riner, these world championships in Doha are just one step on the road that should lead him to a third individual Olympic title, in Paris, in 2024. It’s a championship and I like titles. But, whatever happens, only the Olympic gold medal will count for me”decided in a press conference the Habs, who intends to follow in the footsteps of the Japanese Tadahiro Nomura, the only judoka triple Olympic champion in individual.

But, for the moment, the bronze medalist of the + 100 kg of the Tokyo Games is not yet completely sharp: “I am at 70% of my form. But, sometimes, do we need to reach for the remaining 30% to achieve excellence? I have been reduced or injured most of my career, and I know that the main thing is to be there on D-Day, to fight and to go all the way. »

“I am lucky in old age”

At 34, the Olympic champion claims to still have the same hunger for victory. If he has reduced his appearances in competition to prevent the risk of injury, Riner has multiplied internships abroad in Brazil, Japan or Kazakhstan to find opposition. “At my age, having so much fun on the mat is rare. I am lucky in old age, he confides. I listen to myself and ease off when needed. »

Regarding his physical problems, precisely, nothing to report before Doha, or almost: “The ankle is holding and, for the legs and upper body, everything is fine”details the Frenchman, serene. The only downside, a “small late injury of a ligament of the right index finger”, occurred during the last internship in Hungary. “Which will not prevent me from competing. »

Sixteen years after his very first planetary coronation, in 2007, in Rio, Teddy Riner could enter a little more in the history of his sport with an eleventh title and, just over a year from the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. , sign his return to the highest level.

Louise Le Borgne

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