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Judo: according to his coach, Teddy Riner had to “change things” to dream of a new Olympic coronation

After his victory at the Paris tournament in February, Teddy Riner returns to competition in Antalya.

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Judo: according to his coach, Teddy Riner had to “change things” to dream of a new Olympic coronation

After his victory at the Paris tournament in February, Teddy Riner returns to competition in Antalya. What is the objective on Sunday? Franck Chambily: To win, of course, but the objective is to see where he is in terms of preparation, his state of form. Seeing what we have put in place from a technical-tactical point of view, reviewing its effectiveness in judo, that's what's important. We expect Teddy at the Games, we don't expect him at these tournaments. These are milestones.

The goal is also to score points to be seeded at the Games...Yes, it's a goal. Teddy has always been seeded except in Tokyo (bronze medalist, Editor's note) and it is still more comfortable, to perhaps have a lap lead and a slightly more complacent draw in the first rounds. Today he is not in the eight. But if he wins on Sunday it would take him straight into the top four. Afterwards, there will be two Grand Slams and the World Championships (May 19-24 in Abu Dhabi, Editor's note).

He could line up for the Worlds even two months before the Olympics? Yes why not, we're not denying ourselves anything. It's not confirmed but it's still in the pipeline. It can be a strong objective, especially to ensure being seeded. We will take stock of the situation after Antalya. We are doing one last training course in Japan from April 21 to May 4, and when we come back there will be the Grand Slam in Kazakhstan or the World Championships, so we will have time to see where Teddy stands and the option we will take.

The majority of the best heavyweights today are left-handed. It is often said that facing them is more difficult for Riner, is this a reality? It was true, it is a little less so. Before in the international judo panel there were very few left-handers, and now the trend has been reversed. The very best are left-handed. So we worked a lot. Unfortunately in France we don't have many, so we look for some abroad. We are looking for a diversity of partners, from other horizons, to break the routine of Insep.

Like judokas, judo in general has evolved. What have you put in place to stay at the highest level for so long and with a view to the Olympics? Until today we have seen that he has adapted, but it remains sluggish, and at the Games you always have to predict what is hardest. It's not just the mental and the physical and that's where I try to work. We know that Teddy is mentally strong, physically strong, but it's not just that, he's capable of doing judo. On the other hand, we had to change things in his judo, to mask a little bit, to keep the effectiveness he had at his peak level, around 2012. Teddy had a tendency to make big attacks directly and that, that has evolved a lot. We have to put everything in the 2024 sauce.

To win this third individual title, what is his greatest strength? It's a combat sport so of course there are the physical arguments, but I would say that Teddy's strong point is his mentality. This is its biggest asset. He proved it at the last Worlds, he made six fights including three golden scores, in the eighth, quarter and final. It cost him but he won. Even me, he still impressed me, he still surprises me. But if we can avoid that at the Games that would be great! Because at the end of the day, in the Olympic final, it comes down to details.

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