Teddy Riner (+100 kg) returned to victory at the Doha Masters on Wednesday for his return to international competition, almost a year after his loss in Paris - his first in more than nine years - and six months before the Tokyo Games.
Riner, who at 31 years old aims to conquer a third Olympic coronation in the Japanese capital after 2012 and 2016 - an unprecedented feat in heavyweights -, defeated Russian Inal Tasoev, world No.3, in the final.
Last February, it was the Japanese N.2 Kokoro Kageura who inflicted his first defeat since September 2010 and after 154 consecutive fights, in the third round of the Paris tournament.
This success puts the reigning double Olympic heavyweight champion and ten-time world champion (eight times in +100 kg, two in all categories) back into a positive dynamic in the home stretch towards his historic Olympic challenge in the land of judo.
Only the Japanese Tadahiro Nomura, in lightweight, has so far achieved the feat of becoming three-time Olympic champion in judo (1996, 2000 and 2004).
It also allows him to make a leap in the world ranking: the 1,800 points offered to the winner of the prestigious Masters make him climb to the gates of the top 10.
- Unprecedented weight since 2012 -
Riner, who has been very rare on the tatami mats since his second Olympic coronation in Rio in 2016, thus only approached the first meeting of 2021 at 27th place in the world.
Between Paris and Doha, and on the return of confinement, the member of PSG had also bowed much more unexpectedly at the national level, at the French Team Championships in October in Brest, against Joseph Terhec.
Spurred in particular by his two consecutive defeats, so unusual, Riner has seriously regained control in recent months, in particular on his diet, to the point of climbing on the carpet of the Masters at his lowest weight since 2012, with 141 kilos.
The superstar of French - and world - judo is not, however, the only one to have distinguished himself in the imposing sports complex of Lusail on Wednesday.
The young Romane Dicko (+78 kg), already double European champion at 21, has offered herself the most prestigious victory of her precocious career, and with the manner: four ippons against four top 10.
Madeleine Malonga, already reigning world and European champion, confirmed that she was the patron in -78 kg by also winning.
© 2021 AFP