Who wants Teddy Riner’s skin? Or rather, who can boast of paying it? Against any “classic” rival, all the other judoka ranked in the top heavyweight category would believe it. In fact, that’s a different story. What insolent people really believe themselves capable of bringing down the double Olympic champion? At best, a small minority of those beautiful 100-pound babies are supposed to be tatami terrors.
Make no mistake, the Frenchman’s defeat in 2020 at the Paris Tournament, just months before the postponement of the Olympics and after ten years of invincibility, has hardly made his opponents more optimistic. This is the case of Brazilian Rafael Silva, a subscriber to the Olympic bronze medals in the last two editions. “He is a great champion, the greatest. This defeat [contre le Japonais Kokoro Kageura] it’s bad news for us. It will stimulate him, he will train even harder. “, he confided to the World.
The 2018 world champion, Georgian Guram Tushishvili is, at 26, one of those who could harbor some regicidal ambitions. However, when The world He spoke to him a few days after the fall of Riner at home, the young man who weighed 115 kg has not failed in the mute reputation of the Caucasian mountaineer: “I don’t want to talk about Teddy. “ Then Tushishvili relaxed: “Teddy will be present in Tokyo, he will train, he will correct things. This defeat does not change anything. He is still the champion. “
“I came back stronger”
In 2017, during a semifinal of the World Cup, in Budapest, the judoka had pushed the idol, a reference fight, although the murderer’s hand had shaken when committing the crime of lese majesty. An astute observer, Belgian judoka Toma Nikiforov derisively recounts Teddy Riner’s proud reaction: “A few months later, Teddy had made things clear at the World Cup in all categories. He took it, spun it and the Georgian is still busy filming in Marrakech. “
Nikiforov can show his nonchalance. If he is well entered in Tokyo, he will not have to deal with the mountain, since he fights in the lower category, the one under 100 kg. In the final of Marrakech, in 2017, during the 10me With Riner’s world title, the Belgian had rubbed shoulders with heavyweight. “In the internship, he suggests that there is a possibility of upsetting him. In competition, when he fights 100%, it becomes very difficult. In Marrakech, he put all his power, his tactics, his combat intelligence. ”
However, on paper, it is the smallest sizes, everything is relative, the ones that annoy the French the most. The Japanese Kageura – not selected for Tokyo – is the prototype, with its 1.79 m and 120 kg. Details of Toma Nikiforov: “As it is much larger, it is not so much the smallest that bothers it, but above all the much more mobile. Even though he’s mobile too, guys who weigh between 105kg and 120kg bother him more than a 160kg guy. “
“I want to thank [à Kageura] », Riner replied, questioned about him by some Japanese journalists who came to meet him in Paris in March. “I came back stronger. I approach the Games with serenity, good pressure, assured despite a ligament injury in the right knee, which forced him to suspend his preparation for two months. I’m better in my head and in my judo. When you go from 155 to 138 kg, it gives you that [en exhibant sa musculature]. » TO World, then begged “The little mishap” : “It is a small size, yes, but there are also many things that made me lose. I was not ready. He weighed more than 150 kg. ” Since then, the change in diet has been there.
So what is the way forward to dethrone the superstar? Rafael Silva remembers the obvious: “If I had the secret recipe, it wouldn’t be twelve times that I would lose to himjokes the Brazilian. During the 5me decisive fight of the World Teams in 2011, that’s where I worried the most. I had pushed him to the gold score, I had tried to imprint my own rhythm, to vary the techniques. I still look at it from time to time, it makes me feel good. “
Dutchman Ron Meyer develops a similar strategy by refining it: “You have to use your second hand to move a lot, counter his kumikata [la saisie du kimono], use your body at your own tempo and try to wait for the right moment to scoreexplains the double world bronze medalist. Against all opponents, there is a time when opportunities arise. But against Teddy, you feel these opportunities are less. “
South American Silva sees a flaw here, trying to push the golgoth to the limit, instilling doubt in him throughout the minutes: “The longer the fight lasts, the luckier we may be. Well, relatively. ” We have met a chef who trusts his recipe more, a sign of the psychological control of the French.
Teddy Riner doesn’t blink at this situation. “I am not aware of it, otherwise I would have less knots on my head. And it’s very good that way. When you are overconfident, the box [la chute] it comes fast. I prefer to tell myself that I am “beatable” and keep training. ” Without a doubt, this is the way to win again and again.
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