Paris (AFP)

As a year ago, French judo, without superstar Teddy Riner, fully focused on the Olympics 2020 in Tokyo, ranks behind her other gold collector Clarisse Agbegnenou for the World Championships, also in the Japanese capital, from Sunday.

Focused on winning a third historic Olympic title in heavyweight, "the goal of a career", the world judo boss, two-time Olympic champion and ten times world champion (eight times in +100 kg, two times in all categories), prefers once again to miss the world meeting. Riner had not won - victoriously - with the competition until early July in Montreal, in a secondary tournament, after twenty months without a fight and a long break, to let his body blow like his head.

A time tempted by the Japanese Worlds (unlike his coach at Insep Franck Chambily), in the land of judo, the neo-thirties "definitely" gave up his return from Quebec, where he stretched his vertiginous a series of consecutive victories at 148 fights, but found that he was "not ready yet" and had to "still work".

In the absence of Riner - however present in Japan - it is Agbegnenou, vice-Olympic champion 2016, triple world champion (2014, 2017 and 2018) and quadruple champion of Europe (2013, 2014, 2018 and 2019) in -63 kg, which is the locomotive of tri-color judo.

- Agbegnenou aims for a fourth record -

Beyond prolonging its invincibility and mark a little more its territory to one year of the Olympic High Mass, in the same mythical hall of Nippon Budokan, in the heart of Tokyo, not far from the Imperial Palace, the N .1 world class will become, at 26, the first French judoka four-time world gold medalist if she is wearing a new crown. It would then exceed the trio Lucie Décosse / Gévrise Emane / Brigitte Deydier.

"It is clear and clear that she does not come for the money or the bronze.I do not need to transmit to her the culture of winning, she has it," launches AFP Larbi Benboudaoud, responsible blue judokas.

The last defeat of Agbegnenou dates back to December 2017 (in the semifinals of the Masters against Tashiro), twenty months ago.

In its wake, the delegation tricolor female looks great, including three other world medalists, Amandine Buchard, N.1 worldwide in -52 kg, (bronze in -48 kg in 2014 and -52 kg in 2018, 24 years) Hélène Receveaux (-57 kg, bronze in 2017, 28) and Marie-Eve Gahié, N.2 worldwide in -70 kg (silver in 2018, 22), as well as two other European champions, Margaux Pinot ( -70 kg in 2019, 25 years old) and Madeleine Malonga (-78 kg in 2018, 25 years old).

- Untouchable Japan -

Without Riner, the CVs are much less provided men side: only two of the eight French fighters selected are ranked in the top 20 of their category (Clerget in -90 kg and Iddir in -100 kg). Only one climbed on a world podium, Axel Clerget (32), a bronze medalist a year ago in Baku.

A world podium, it is precisely the only one missing from the list of 32-year-old Cyrille Maret, Olympic bronze medalist in 2016 and multiple European medalist (six) in -100 kg.

It remains to be seen whether this association between "alumni with experience of major events and young enthusiasts in search of glory", as the National Technical Director Jean-Claude Senaud describes the team of France, will regain the rank of second best nation in the world, behind the untouchable Japan, lost last year (4 individual medals, including 1 gold) for the first time since 2009.

In 2017 as in 2018, the Japanese fighters had won seven of the fourteen individual titles distributed. Illustration of their implacable efficiency or almost, sixteen of the eighteen engaged had even obtained a medal a year ago.

Eleven months of the Olympics in the Japanese capital, no doubt they are committed to reaffirming their hegemony.

© 2019 AFP