The eight-time world champion heavyweight (+100 kg) defends its Olympic title, Friday, August 12 in Rio. Facing him, his opponents seem destitute. But what makes them so afraid?
three penalties because of his annoying tendency to collapse on the ground at the slightest attempt of the French, a victory would have held a miracle. “Anyway, even if he had scored an advantage, I won the fight. Because I know I would have put the box [an ippon], “ adds Teddy Riner.
Apart from this little alert, nothing on the horizon. Since his last defeat, which dates back to September 2010 in Tokyo, Teddy Riner has sworn that it will “steal [s] steak” . That day, the Frenchman, who had just won his fourth title of world champion the day before, is in the final of all-worlds against a Japanese, Daiki Kamikawa, unknown to the battalion. After a terrible game and very closed, the Nippon is declared winner of the decision (very tight, two flags to one). But what efforts to reach a match with a Riner decreased by his performance the day before! Coming out of the fight, Kamikawa confesses, his arms paralyzed and sore body, that he does not know how he was able to snatch this victory. In rage, in tears, Riner, who feels aggrieved, even goes so far as to declare behind the scenes that he wants to “stop the judo” . But it will be nothing, of course. The Frenchman is too proud to accept defeat so easily. And above all, he finally found an opponent to his size. Not for very long, it must be recognized.
Teddy Riner comforted by his brother after his loss to Japan’s Daiki Kamikawa in the final of the all-around world championships in Tokyo in September 2010. AFP PHOTO / Kazuhiro NOGI
At the Paris Tournament in February 2011, 6 months after his resounding humiliation in the country of judo, Teddy Riner is waiting for his revenge that arrives on a plateau in his garden of Bercy. In the final of heavy, the two enemies are found. Very quickly, the fight turns to the correction for the Japanese who is thrashed in the hubbub of the public in delirium. After a minute, the French launches a powerful o-soto-gari counted waza-ari and finishes the ground work by immobilizing his victim. To drive the point, Riner even asks photographers to immortalize the scene by posing in front of the scoreboard that indicates a scathing 0 to his opponent. “Now, it will be the same fare for everyone , “ warns the hero of the day to journalists, a few meters from Daiki Kamikawa who, head down, cash several bullies and baffles from his coach.
During this competition, there is an abyssal difference between the judoka that Teddy Riner was, and the one he has become. Still a little technically and physically just before his final lost at the 2010 Worlds in Tokyo, the French has turned into a real machine. In the space of 6 months, his judo has evolved considerably and his physique has grown. It was, somewhere, the sine qua non for maintaining his leadership on the category and no longer stealing his “steak” .
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In fact, on the mutation of Riner, we have not seen anything yet. At the world championships in Paris in 2011, the man who held four world titles then took a fifth gold medal without trembling. Better, he gave the public of Bercy a real demonstration of judo, martyring all his opponents on expeditious and splendid ippons, both on the ground as standing. His performance even inspired this reflection to Fabien Canu, two-time world champion 1987 and 1989, stunned: “The opponents of Teddy were like babies in his arms. “David Douillet, her predecessor twice Olympic champion and quadruple world champion heavyweight, adds:” If we had an example of techniques in judo schools it would broadcast the fights Teddy today. “
At the London Olympics in 2012, Teddy Riner did not need to force his talent, nor to raise his technical level. All his opponents have locked their judo so as not to be humiliated in front of cameras around the world. At the option of everything for the whole, they preferred penalties and eliminations.
Brazilian Rafael Silva, helpless against Teddy Riner in the final of the 2013 World Cup in Rio de Janeiro. AFP PHOTO / VANDERLEI ALMEIDA
In 2013, we reach the height of the European Championships in Budapest. While Riner is suffering from a pubalgie, he still manages to win the title … on one leg. A few months later, at the Rio Worlds in late August, he won his sixth world title after setting speed records. Time to put his hands and go! Fights last on average less than a minute. And what about this final where he leaves the Brazilian Rafael Silva on the ground to immobilize him? Easy, simply. Behind the scenes, incredulous and sulky lip, the loser sighed to his coach: “He is too strong. I can not do anything. “
“If I had an athlete like me in my category, I would have gotten into the fight and I would have given the best of myself to see what I would have been able to do,” Teddy Riner told Le Monde . Easy to say when you are yourself at the top of the bill and unbeaten for 6 years. More difficult when you have everything to prove and face the living legend of his sport. Because beyond the physical and technical superiority of the king of the heavy, there is this mental difficulty to present himself in front of him as explains the head of the French men’s team Stéphane Frémont: “It is not obvious to fight against Teddy because there is a psychological dimension imposed by his track record. You have to be ready to face it. If you’re not ready, you’re dead. His chest, his arms give off such energy! He has a killer side and he can afford to decide what he will put. “At the Olympics in Rio on Friday, it is unclear that could prevent Riner get his second Olympic title. A widely shared thought that takes poetic paces in the mouth of Frédéric Lecanu: “ None of the heavy can seriously say today:” Teddy, I’m going to make sushi “ .