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Weight off 26 kilos, Teddy Riner is back at his best



Winner of the Doha Masters, the French judoka was convincing six months before the Tokyo Games. As were his compatriots Romane Dicko and Madeleine Malonga, both equally victorious.

Transfigured. Returned to his healthy weight, below the 140 kilogram mark, Teddy Riner performed at the height of his legend this Wednesday at the Doha Masters. A title, his first since October … 2019 in Brasilia, which revives him completely a few months before the Tokyo Olympics. From an accounting standpoint, first of all, since it will make a leap in a world hierarchy where it was only 27th before the Qatari tournament while ensuring its Olympic participation. But also, and above all, on the mental level, after a very delicate year 2020, marked by two defeats, the first of which, on February 9 against the Japanese Kokoro Kageura, had put an end to his incredible series of 154 successes in a row. .

In the final, Riner never trembled against the 22-year-old Russian Inal Tasoev, third in the world but constantly on the defensive against the renewed mobility and power of the two-time Olympic champion. On arrival, Tasoev was penalized three times, thus offering a coronation as expected as hoped for on the side of the Guadeloupe, in search of references. “He was eagerly awaited,” confided his trainer Franck Chambily at the microphone of the channel L’Equipe. “I found it to have good legs, it is mobile, it goes quickly on the hands. In terms of his attacks, it’s still a little sluggish but he manages to trigger, which was not the case six months ago. With the weight that has come down, to see it at this level, it’s already a good thing. “

Concern for Harasawa

In the semifinals, Riner (31) had dismissed the Ukrainian Yakiv Khammo with a quick waza-ari marked on a hip movement. Previously, the French judoka had completed his first three laps by ippon, at the expense of the Dutchman Roy Meyer, the young Georgian Gela Zaalishvili and the Russian Tamerlan Bashaev. Hisayoshi Harasawa, the Japanese selected for the 2020 Olympics in heavyweight and the victim of Riner in the Olympic final in Rio, injured himself as soon as he entered the running by falling on his right side. The world number 2 over 100 kg was lifted off the mat on a stretcher.

Malonga and Dicko also in gold

Among women, the Doha Masters ended in style with two additional titles, after those of Amandine Buchard (-52kg) and Clarisse Agbegnenou (-63kg). Thus, Madeleine Malonga, reigning world champion and world number 1 in -78 kg, confirmed her status as patron of the category by winning for the first time at the Masters, almost six months before the Tokyo Games. In the final, Malonga (27 years old) beat by waza-ari the Japanese Shori Hamada, her runner-up in the world ranking. Impactful as throughout her day of competition where she won her first three fights on ippon in less than two minutes each time, she quickly took the advantage by knocking down Hamada in less than thirty seconds. But she then had to fight with all her might to resist a long attack on the ground from her Japanese opponent, very close to surprising her.

Now the reigning world and European champion, and victorious in the prestigious Masters, Malonga seems to have definitely taken the advantage in the three-way match in which she is engaged with Fanny-Estelle Posvite and Audrey Tcheuméo, in the race for the unique Olympic sesame in play. Neither Posvite, still weakened by his left shoulder which still needs rehabilitation, nor Tcheuméo, beaten in his first fight, did not stand out on Wednesday. And a few tens of minutes after Malonga, another French judokate won with Romane Dicko at the +78 kilos. At 21, the one who was crowned European champion at the end of last year confirms her excellent form, materialized by a superb victory in the final against Azerbaijani Iryna Kindzerska, glued to the tatami by a perfect immobilization on the ground. 18th in the world before Doha, Dicko will climb a few ranks and place himself ideally before Tokyo.

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