Teddy Riner remains the emperor in judo. With his tenth World title he closed all mouths, he got all the respect. Also respect for the finallist, Toma Nikiforov, a lightweight compared to Riner but his guts and flair and good judo brought him into the final of the World Open Championships.
The first and last final of the day opposed already judo legend Teddy Riner, running for a tenth world title, and Toma Nikiforov (BEL), who was definitely among the strong men of the day, but for sure not among the top favourites. Immediately imposing his unbelievable power, Riner scored a first waza-ari after 25 seconds with a superb sumi-gaeshi. Half way to the end, Nikiforov seemed to be able to control Riner and launched a o-soto-gari, but the punishment was immediate, as Riner countered with a o-soto-gari for a second waza-ari. Eleven seconds from the end the French was penalised with a shido for stepping outside of the competition area, but then controlled the Belgian to conclude his incredible series of ten world titles. The question remains valid: who can defeat Riner? Who has the solution against him. Today was a long day for the French champion: six matches with totally different opponents and styles, but Riner had always the solution and was never in danger. He controlled everything from the start of the day and at the end showed his ten fingers.
Teddy declared: “I can’t say that I was at 100% today, but I really had good feelings since this morning. I enjoyed this competition very much. It’s a different format, it’s totally different from a usual sports hall, but it’s good to change sometimes and to get out of our comfort zone.
“I had really good matches and my opponents were strong. I have really to carefully watch Tushishvili in the future for instance. It’s good, that they want to take my place. But I’m not ready to give it away.
“I wanted the tenth title. I was dreaming of it and it happened in front of my family, which makes it even tastier.
“Now I will take a long vacation. I need it. I will watch my weight but I need some rest. I don’t know yet if I will participate in the World Championships next year and in 2019. I have to adapt a little bit my rhythm. Today, I am World Champion again, and I’m happy.“
After the final double Olympic Champion and four times World Champion David Douillet declared: “What Teddy did today is amazing. To keep his level so high all the time, to keep the motivation is incredible. That is the most difficult in a sports career.
“He was taking match after match all day long, focused and well prepared, but he had a really good opposition.
“A competition like that is difficult, because actually between the preliminary rounds and the final block there is a big gap and it’s like two different competitions. At the beginning of the day, he needed to warm up and then he had really difficult matches, but he controlled perfectly everything. In the semi-final, after a long break, I could feel that he was not at 100%, but once again, his talent and professionalism helped him a lot.
“Two Olympic titles, and 10 world title, is crazy and I am sure that he can still win many medals, but he is getting older and he has to pay attention. I am sure that he will be present and ready in Tokyo and why not in Paris in 2024. That would have been my dream, but I couldn’t fight for the Olympics in my country. Teddy might have that chance. Anyway, he is just an incredible champion.
“You know, after all my titles, I can tell you that what remains is the friendship, the fact that you are part of a family. I have learned a lot during my sporting career and I keep applying that in my daily life. Respect is the key. When you realize that, you actually understand that we are living on a small planet and that our richness is based on our differences. We must cultivate them and take them as the most precious thing in earth.“