Europe 1 with AFP 10:11 p.m., February 05, 2023

The ten-time French world champion won a seventh victory on Sunday in the Paris Grand Slam by beating the Japanese Hyoga Ota in the final.

Teddy Riner is now focused on his next major goal: the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Still far from his best level after a nasty ankle injury, Teddy Riner went to Bercy on Sunday to get 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," admitted the 33-year-old colossus.

"But I didn't come to show anything, I just came to win (…) The old man is back!"

After a forced hiatus due to injury, 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-Olympic break. from Tokyo.

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 withdraw from 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.


- Judo: Teddy Riner, back from injury, wins his seventh Paris Tournament

"Race against time"

"It was very, very complicated for me to come back to that level, it was a little race against time. Today I'm happy, I had feelings that were unlocked," he said. he explained after sounding the Marseillaise.

18 months before the big meeting of the Paris Olympics, Riner, who estimated himself "at 70%" of his abilities, made this Paris 2023 tournament an important step in his preparation.

"We are still very far from my best level, I am very far from the level I had before the injury. But we have to stay positive, there is still a year and a half left 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 be aiming for a third individual Olympic title in Paris.

With this seventh victory in the capital, 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 said.


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Audrey Tcheuméo also sacred

For his entry into the running, three years after his last appearance at Bercy, Riner had defeated the Bahraini Azamat Chotchaev in an expeditious manner, scoring an ippon after 29 seconds.

In the next round, he needed 2 min 35 sec 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.

"Tactically, I maintained it well. I have a little regret at the exit because I wanted to bring it down (...) But when we can't attack, we play the penalties", a-t- he analyses.

This second day of competition was also marked by Audrey Tcheuméo's sixth success in Paris after her coronations in 2011, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2022.