The “Teddy, Teddy” escape from the stands of an AccorArena full as an egg, Sunday February 5.
Three years almost to the day after being beaten by the Japanese Kokoro Kageura – who had ended a series of 154 victories – the judoka and colossus is back at the scene of the crime.
Without really trembling this time, to win gold by beating in the final over 100 kg, the Japanese Hyoga Ota on penalties.
“Are you asking me how the final went?
I didn't come to show anything, but to win and score points, ”says Teddy Riner to sum up a fight that will not go down in history.
“I know it won't be this Japanese at the Olympic Games
(but a priori Tatsuru Saito, the vice-world champion)
, we had to go fast and take no risks.
When the opponents go into defence, I know it's complicated to attack, so I stop the mistakes and let the penalties mount.
After two express victories by ippon, another with a golden score, the triple Olympic gold medalist struggled in the semi-finals against Uzbek Alisher Yusupov, whom he had already met in training, but never in competition.
“In training, we fought a lot of fights, recalls Riner.
There he tried to close my entire right side.
But as he did not attack, the penalties fell.
Tactically, I held it well, I still had regrets not having knocked it down.
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The Frenchman fell during this fight.
Certainly on an unauthorized take, but which sounds like a warning, no opponent having really put Riner on the mat for a long time.
“He knocked me down but he took a lot behind, laughs the Frenchman.
More seriously, of course I note it.
Soon, Riner jokes again.
“The old man is back!
“, he lets go.
“I took the temperature at home”
“Even at 70% of my abilities
(even 60% according to his trainer Franck Chambily)
, I'm happy with myself.
I didn't do an extraordinary judo, but this tournament is part of the preparation and I won here for the seventh time.
And I took the temperature at home, for the 2024 Games. Feeling the pressure, not slipping, it's important to participate in tournaments at home.
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However, the competitions are not part of the priorities, even if on May 13, Teddy Riner could tackle an 11th world title.
Next week, he should head for Brazil, then Japan in March.
Always in this logic of preparing far from Paris, with his family, and by facing during international groups, as many opponents as possible.
"In this tournament, he did the job," said Franck Chambily, his coach.
He didn't have a huge judo volume.
That said, he still has this physique that allows him to have a margin, with the little judo he has, he finds sensations, especially on his support.
We have 18 months left to ramp up.