why Teddy Riner can believe in his dream of an Olympic treble

Moment of relaxation for Teddy Riner with his daughter Ysis, shortly after his victory in the final of more than 100 kg against the Russian Inal Tasoev, Saturday in Doha. KARIM JAAFAR/AFP

440 days before the Games, the legendary judoka won an 11th world title which confirms his return to the top.

She salutes at the end of the tatami, as tradition requires at the start of a fight, takes ten small steps, responds to her opponent’s salute and takes his hands, slips between his legs, pushes him, and the colossus falls on his back, knocked down… by a four-and-a-half-year-old girl. A few quarters of an hour later his father’s eleventh world titleon the very tatami which saw his triumph on Saturday in Doha, Ysis Riner managed to bring down the legend of world judo where the Russian Inal Tasoev (who competed under a neutral flag and was beaten in the final by waza-ari during extension), the Romanian Vladut Simionescu, the Polish Kacper Szczurowski, the Mongolian Tsetsentsengel Odkhuu, the Japanese Tatsuru Saito (vice-world champion) and the Tajik Temur Rakhimov (world number 1) failed… Teddy Riner hastened to to publish the video of the “exploit” on social networks to “closing this incredible day”…

The meeting was important for the giant of more than 2 meters. Six years after his last appearance on the stage of a world championship, and especially 440 days before the opening of the Paris Games, he returned to test himself against the best judokas on the planet. Result, six fights, six victories, and more than 28 minutes accumulated to win a new world title, sixteen years after the first. The best news for judoka and for the French Olympic team, which left Qatar this Sunday with eight world medals, including those in gold of its bosses Teddy Riner (+ 100 kg) and Clarisse Agbegnenou (- 63 kg)both crowned for their big comeback and relaunched fully on the road to the Games.

It’s important to have gone all the way, to have taken up the challenge and above all to tell myself that even when I’m not in good shape I have the condition to tear myself away

Teddy Riner

“I think it’s one of the biggest days of my entire career. No rhythm all day: so what do we use? The mind is all that’s left. The brain guides the rest,” entrusted the Guadeloupe, to 60% of his potential before the competition, according to his trainer, Franck Chambily.

Injured and absent from the 2022 edition of the Worlds, Teddy Riner did not let his rivals breathe for long by winning the Grand Slam in Paris last February. And, in Doha, he said he was happy to have managed to impose himself in pain. “It’s important to have gone all the way, to have taken up the challenge and above all to tell myself that even when I’m not in good shape I have the condition to tear myself away. The Games are a unique day, so you might as well prepare well and put all the ingredients together.”

tired body

The Paris Games, the last meeting, the ultimate challenge. With his 34 springs, the Frenchman is not that old, but his body is tired, scarred, chewed up by the weight of a career that began in 2006. Olympic champion at the London Games in 2012 then in Rio in 2016, he failed in Tokyo in 2021 in his quest for an individual treble, collecting “only” bronze (defeat in the quarter-finals). After having long cast doubt on his presence or not at the Paris Games before Tokyo, the Guadeloupean has finally plunged back into the deep Olympic bath for his supreme dream. Conclude a legendary domination with a triumph at home. And these Doha Worlds, which were only a stopover on the road to Paris, can confirm him in his ambitious major. Join (in particular) Marie-José Pérec and Tony Estanguet, the chief organizer of Paris 2024, in the firmament of the triple individual gold medalists at the Summer Games. “I work for that, to be unbeatable, to be the best, but the best in all its forms: in sensations, in judo, in mind, in everything. That’s good, we’ve achieved a big step. Now a little rest. I need to treat the injuries, and then we will go back to work very quickly. Young Ysis shouldn’t see her father much by August 2, 2024, D-Day…

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