In search of a third Olympic gold medal, Teddy Riner will have to deal with a course strewn with pitfalls, the draw not having spared him.
Teddy Riner is eight days away from his big date. It is indeed next Friday July 30 that the French judoka will try to win a third Olympic title. He would become, if necessary, the second French sportsman to win three gold medals in the same discipline at three different Games. So far, only Tony Estanguet, in a canoe slalom, has achieved such a feat.
But the task promises to be tough for Teddy Riner. Firstly because the Guadeloupean recently confided that he seriously injured his knee five months ago, which inevitably disrupted his preparation. But the draw also did not spoil the nine-time world champion, who fell back to 16e world rank due to his discretion on the circuit for two years.
Teddy Riner will start his journey against the Austrian Stephan Hegyi (19e world), whom he had met in the second round of the 2020 Paris Tournament. For what was to constitute the last of his 154 consecutive victories, the Frenchman had all the trouble in the world to win and had complained virulently of the wait-and-see tactics of the young heavyweight, European bronze medalist in 2019. In the second round, it is the Israeli Or Sasson (13e world) which will stand in its way. As in Rio, five years ago. The Habs had won in the semifinals at the end of the fight and posted four victories in as many confrontations against the native of Jerusalem.
World number one in quarterfinals?
And the task is still likely to be complicated in the quarter-finals where Teddy Riner should meet the Russian Tamerlan Bashaev, who arrives in Japan in the costume of world number one, in particular thanks to his European title last year and his silver medal. at the world championships in Budapest in early June. The Russian, who will face Senegalese Mbagnick Ndiaye for his entry into the running, could not do anything against Teddy Riner at the Masters in Doha last January, the French star winning by ippon.
As for the semi-final, Teddy Riner should find an opponent he knows very well, the Brazilian Rafael Silva (7e world), double Olympic medalist but against whom the Habs have an immaculate record of seven victories in seven fights, including one in the quarterfinals of the Rio Games, the Georgian Guram Tushishvili (6e world), 2018 world champion and against which the French won his two fights, including that of the 2017 worlds where the Guadeloupe came close to the correctional after a sweep.
As for the final, two judokas stand out: the Czech Lukas Krpalek (4e world), crowned in Rio in less than 100 kilos and who hopes to make the double in Tokyo, or the Japanese Hisayoshi Harasawa (2e world), which carries the hopes of an entire country on its back. And this while he never won the title of world champion, or beat Teddy Riner, who had also dominated in the final in Tokyo. What Kokoro Kageura had managed to do, who had brought down the French at the Paris Tournament in 2020.
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