Teddy Riner took the first rounds of the Judo Masters by ippon for his return to the international tatami mats almost a year after his loss in the Paris tournament on Wednesday in Doha.
Riner (31), who aims to afford a third Olympic coronation in Tokyo next summer - unprecedented in heavyweight - first twice brought down his first opponent, the Dutchman Roy Meyer, a first time after two minutes of fighting, then a second about thirty seconds from the gong.
He then dismissed Georgian Gela Zaalishvili in just under two minutes (ippon) to advance to the quarter-finals.
The reigning double Olympic champion and ten-time world champion will face the young Russian Tamerlan Bashaev (24 years old).
Hisayoshi Harasawa, the Japanese selected for the 2020 Olympics in heavyweight and beaten by Riner in the Olympic final in Rio, was less successful: the world No. 2 over 100 kg was injured as soon as he entered the competition in falling on his right side against Ukrainian Yakiv Khammo and was lifted off the mat on a stretcher.
Riner had seen his more than nine-year-long invincibility end last February in the third round of the Paris tournament, against Japanese N.2 Kokoro Kageura, after 154 consecutive fights.
Then the Covid-19 pandemic then greatly upset the competition calendar, in particular with the postponement of the Tokyo Games for one year.
© 2021 AFP