Story By: Joseph Golder, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Golder’s News And Sport
The greatest judoka in history has lost his first fight in nearly a decade leaving France “in shock” but the Olympic champion said he was “not all that disappointed”.
Teddy Riner, widely considered the greatest judoka in history, was defeated by Kokoro Kageura, 24, from Japan in round three of the Grand Slam in Paris on Sunday.
A good sport, Riner, 30, told the cameras: “I’m laughing about it!”
He added: “It will allow me to work even more and prepare for the Tokyo Olympic Games. My career is behind me, I am not all that disappointed.”
Before his defeat, Riner had won 154 times in a row in a run which saw him as an invincible adversary and that lasted exactly nine years and five months, from September 2010.
Riner is expected to defend his Olympic title at the 2020 summer Olympics in Tokyo.
He will be attempting to follow lightweight judoka Tadahiro Nomura in winning gold at three Olympics in a row.
In a post on Instagram yesterday evening (Sunday), Riner said: “Today is a day without a medal. It is true that it feels weird. But it is part of the game. That is what sports is. It is victories but it is also defeats.”
He added that his focus was on the Tokyo Olympics, saying: “My objective is the Olympics, to go get this medal in Tokyo.”
Riner, who was born on the French island of Guadeloupe in 1989, competes in the over 100-kilogramme heavyweight category. He was brought up in Paris and started judo at the age of five.
In 2007, he became the youngest judoka ever to win a world title at the age of 18 years and five months.
In 2015, he won a record-breaking eighth world title in Astana in Kazakhstan.
He is the most successful judoka ever. He is a double Olympic Champion in 2012 and 2016. The French heavyweight has won ten world titles, more than anyone else, and five European titles.
He has been famously quoted as saying: “When I am invincible, I will stop. I don’t feel invincible yet… I have to continue.”
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