Still far from his best level after a nasty ankle injury, Teddy Riner went to Bercy on Sunday February 5 to win a seventh title at the prestigious Grand Slam of judo in Paris, a year and a half before the Olympic Games at home.
In the +100 kg final against the Japanese Hyoga Ota, the Frenchman was declared the winner on penalties, pushed by the hot public of the Accor Arena. “I did not show extraordinary judo”recognized the 33-year-old colossus. “But I didn’t come to show anything, I just came to win. (…) The old man is back! »
Sprained right ankle
After a forced break due to injury, Teddy Riner was playing his first Grand Slam in Paris since winning the Budapest final in July 2022, a tournament that marked his return to international competition after a long post- Tokyo Olympics.
But his recovery had been turned upside down by a severe sprained right ankle contracted in August during a training camp in Morocco when an opponent fell on him. He was then forced to forfeit the Worlds in October in Uzbekistan, before returning to competition in November with his club PSG in the final of the Champions League by teams.
Eighteen months before the big meeting of the Paris Olympic Games, Riner, who considered himself “70%” of his abilities, made this Paris 2023 tournament an important step in his preparation.
Seventh victory in the capital
“We are still very far from my best level, I am very far from the level I had before I was injured. But we have to stay positive, there is still a year and a half to go and I am ready to work, I have a great staff around me, so what more could you ask for? »said the Guadeloupean, who will aim for a third individual Olympic title in Paris.
With this seventh victory in the capital, Teddy Riner equals the coronation record of the Frenchwoman Lucie Décosse. “It’s nice to equal a record, it’s not the first goal, but it’s always good to leave a mark on the most beautiful tournament in the world, at home”he welcomed.
For his entry into the running, three years after his last appearance at Bercy, Teddy Riner had defeated the Bahraini Azamat Chotchaev in an expeditious manner, scoring an ippon after 29 seconds. In the next round, he needed 2:35 to overcome Kazakh Adil Orazbayev, then in the quarter-finals, the fight against Azerbaijani Dzhamal Gamzatkhanov went to extra time. Then the semi-final, his most difficult fight of the day by his own admission, ended on penalties against Uzbek Alisher Yusupov.