Riner wins historic 11th title at Doha judo worlds

2023-05-14 | Since 3 Week


Doha, 14 May 2023 - French heavyweight Teddy Riner claimed a historic 11th world title with victory over Inal Tasoev in the men’s +100kg final at the 2023 World Judo Championships in Doha.

The 34-year-old defeated his rival by waza ari after three minutes and 41 seconds of golden score time, providing a stunning conclusion to what had been a tightly fought contest.

Moments before, Tasoev had been in pursuit of Riner throughout the match, countering with tenacity. He tried to win with his own waza ari, but the referee deemed it invalid. Sensing the moment, Riner went in for the win.

As the result was confirmed the Frenchman raised his arms in acknowledgement of the raucous crowd who had been cheering him on before then dipping into a forward roll and then staying on the floor, soaking up his achievement, too exhausted to return to his feet.

“I won mentally. I had a sleepless night. People think it’s easy, but it’s hard,” Riner said to Chaine L’Equipe afterwards.

“The 11th title] brings me pride, given how difficult it is to get. The work behind it... But when you work, it pays off. Even if it’s hard.”

Riner’s route to his record-extending world gold was far from a simple one. With no seeded status to protect him, owing to his No.18 world ranking, the Frenchman faced a series of strong contenders from the outset.

After a string of uneasy victories topped by a breathless near-eight minute-long fight against 2022 World Championship silver medallist Saito Tatsuru of Japan in the quarterfinals, Riner came alive in the semi-final against World No 1 Temur Rakhimov.

The three-time Olympic gold medallist needed just 28 seconds to dispatch the Tajik, winning by ippon and setting him up for a final against Tasoev.

Riner’s quest in Qatar for many was seen as a litmus test of form ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympics where the judoka will be a home favourite to medal.

The mixed team competitions are scheduled to begin Sunday, May 14th. Each team consists of three men and three women from different weight categories who will compete in a series of matches, with each member facing an opponent from another country.

Khalid bin Hamad Al Attiyah, who serves as both the President of Qatar Karate, Judo, and Taekwondo Federation and the Vice President and General Director of the Local Organising Committee received a black belt fromMarius Vizer, President of the International Judo Federation, in recognition of his valuable contributions to the Judo community.

It’s been a feature of the World Judo Championships – Doha 2023 that many of the defending champions present have been unable to make the podium at all this time around, with many departing the competition before the quarter-final stages. It has been a reminder that defending, or indeed regaining, a world title is always harder than it is to win it for the first time.

In the +78kg category, Romane Dicko (FRA) was the latest red backpatch holder to fall foul of this trend.

Despite storming to the world title in Tashkent last year, her form had dipped of late, with two defeats to 35-year-old Kayra Sayit (TUR) in successive grand slams in 2023. Dicko was clearly not her usual self in Doha and was defeated by 20-year-old Asya Tavano (ITA) in round 2, by waza-ari. Her exit left an opportunity wide open for her teammate Julia Tolofua to exploit. And exploit it she did, also making a play for the Paris Olympic place.

With the legendary Idalys Ortiz (CUB) withdrawing from the competition before it had begun, the opposite half of the draw opened up for the Tokyo Olympic champion Akira Sone (JPN) to make her way through to the final to face Tolofua.

In the final, after 11 minutes of fighting, it was Sone who came out on top, as Tolofua picked up a third and final shido. The 22-year-old Sone claims her second world title; to have achieved this and an Olympic title as nothing short of incredible.

The first bronze medal contest saw Souza face Kim for a place on the podium and it took only 1 minute to determine the winner. Souza gripped strongly around Kim’s head, attacked first with o-uchi-gari and then o-soto-gari, to floor her opponent for ippon. Kim was left distraught, but Souza was overjoyed; her 3rd world medal clearly meant just as much as the other two, if not more.

The other bronze medal match was contested between Hershko and Xu. Both players struggled to take grips on each other’s lapels and often ended up fighting from the sleeves. This played right into Herskho’s hands and she dropped in a for a low sode-tsurikomi-goshi to score a waza-ari. Xu almost levelled the score with uchi-mata but Hershko held on to claim her first world medal.



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