Openweights Day 1: Riner Wins 10th World Title

The legacy of Teddy Riner continues. The French judoka capped off the first day of the IJF’s 2017 Openweight World Championships in Marrakech, Morocco, by winning his 10th world title.

Riner won the title by defeating Belgium’s Toma Nikiforov in the final match, the sixth Riner competed in during the day. Riner got the first score 25 seconds into the bout with a sumi-gaeshi. As the bout entered the halfway mark, Nikiforov, seemingly in control, launched a o-soto-gari, but Riner countered with a o-soto-gari for another score. While Riner was penalized with 11 seconds remaining for stepping out of bounds, he was able to control Nikiforov for the remainder of time to secure the gold medal.

“I had really good matches and my opponents were strong,” Riner said after the win. “I have really to carefully watch [Guram] Tushishvili [of Georgia] 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.”

Riner advanced to the final with a win over Cuba’s Andy Granda in the semis. Riner won that bout in golden score with a chi-mata for waza-ari. Nikiforov, meanwhile, defeated Japan’s Kokoro Kageura in the other semifinal after executing an ippon.

Following the competition, Riner said he would take some time off and think about what’s next in his judo future.

“Now I will take a long vacation. I need it,” he said. “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.”

Kageura went on to compete in a bronze medal contest against fellow Japanese judoka Takeshi Ojitani. Kageura was penalized 42 seconds into the bout for inactivity, and both were penalized for the same reason with seconds to go, forcing the bout to go to a golden score. Kageura was penalized once more, giving Ojitani a bronze medal.

Meanwhile, in the other bronze medal match, Granda faced off against fellow Cuban judoka Alex Garcia Mendoza. Garcia Mendoza got the first score of the bout, a waza-ari with a o-soto-gari, and then got another waza-ari with immobilization. That was enough to give Garcia Mendoza the win and the medal.

Prior to the semis and final, Riner’s road to the 10th title began with a bout against Kyrgyzstan’s Iurii Krakovetskii

After a harsh first fight against Iurii KRAKOVETSKII (KGZ) in the first round, but convincingly won by Riner, he was again on the scene against Tushishvili after scoring two waza-ari, including a first from a highlight harai-goshi.

Riner then defeated Tunisia’s Faicel Jaballah and Mongolia’s Temuulen Battulga before going on to the semis to face Granada, who defeated Ojitani.

Elsewhere in the judo action, former judo champion and Olympic gold medalist Ilias Iliadis of Greece came out of retirement for the competition, but was unsuccessful in his opening round bout against Dutch judoka Roy Meyer.

Triple world champion Alexander Mikhaylin also made his return at the event. After defeating Algeria’s Nadjib Temmar and France’s Cyrille Maret, Mikhaylin fell to Nikiforov in the quarterfinals.

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