″It’s been a long time since I heard the Marseillaise (French national anthem) on a world podium, it feels good,″ declared Teddy Riner on Saturday evening. It’s on the Qatari tatami that the champion won a record-extending 11th individual world title, six years after his last, as he gears up for the 2024 Paris Olympics. ″I really hope it will come off (again) at Paris 2024,” he added, ″but it can only come off when you have days like that.″
‘Biggest day of my career’
If Riner dispatched world number one Temur Rakhimov in 30 seconds in the semi-finals, he went into needed overtime to defeat Tasoev by waza-ari. ″No rhythm all day, so what do we use? The mind, that’s all that’s left,″ declared the champion. ″I think it’s one of the biggest days of my entire career,″ he added.
Riner, originally from Guadeloupe, became the youngest-ever men’s world champion in 2007. He had last appeared in the world championships in 2017, missing out on last year’s due to an ankle injury. The French athlete will bid for a third individual Olympic gold medal on home soil next year, after having to settle for bronze in Tokyo.