RINER REPEATS AS ANDEOL UPSETS FAVOURITES

Olympic Games 2016

As was widely expected Teddy RINER (FRA), reigning Olympic champion in the men’s +100kg category, retained his Olympic title on the final day of completion at the Rio Olympic Games. The day began with a long list of contenders. For some a match with Riner would be an opportunity to show that a previous loss could be reversed, or for the four fighters who not previously faced the French giant, that they could offer up a serious challenge. First to test Riner was Mohammed TAYEB (ALG) but Riner scored waza ari quickly then secured osaekomi quickly to show that he was in no mood for staying around for long. Unfortunately that initial intensity did not remain for long and by the quarterfinal Riner appeared more focused on ensuring a win than by aesthetics.

As number one seed Riner took his place in the first of the quarterfinals, this was against Brazilian home favourite Raphael SILVA (BRA). The pair had met on six previous occasions and, with Riner having won all six, the odds were firmly against Silva. Riner scored waza ari and promptly proceeded to “shut up shop,” something that the crowd sensed and to which they did not take kindly, booing the Frenchman as he progressed to the semifinal and their man Silva was consigned to the repechage. Or Sasson was Riner’s semifinal opponent and the Israeli gave a good account of himself. But Sasson was only able to threaten Riner once with a sharp seoi nage attack. Thereafter, both fighters collected a shido each and, with golden score looming large, Sasson was caught with a rather ungainly but nevertheless effective yoko sutemi waza that brought Riner waza ari and a place in the final.

And so the last contest of the men’s Olympic heavyweight event was at hand; a match up between Riner and HARASAWA Hisayoshi (JPN). It was the first time the pair had met and there was huge expectation that the Japanese had found a fighter to really pose a threat to Riner. However, Riner was able to nullify all efforts from Harasawa and the contest was settled on shidos, two picked by Harasawa whilst Riner collected only one and with that his second Olympic gold medal.

When asked about the strength of his opponents today Riner said, "The two last matches, the semifinal and the final, were the hardest ones. Coming here I was sure that I would face HARASAWA in the final and this is what happened. The logic of the draw followed its course. I also knew that it would be SASSON in the semis. I knew it would be tough. These two fighters I had in the afternoon were strong and today proved that they are really strong opponents and I have to be aware of them in the future.”

Asked what emotions were aroused by his winning yet another gold medal Riner responded by saying, "I feel a lot of pride and joy that you perhaps do not see right now, because it is a big day and it is tiring and testing. But the joy is inside and I think I will not sleep tonight. A new Olympic medal is always a special moment. It is my third one and it is huge. I am proud of myself and pleased with myself because I did not let go in the final, I did not let go in my preparation, did not let go in the Olympic cycle, in spite of injuries and missing feelings."Riner’s thoughts on the Games were interesting when he commented, “Rio was also much more challenging than London because judo has changed. My partners are very strong and it's a new level. I still would like to experience moments like this. Right now I do not want to think about it Tokyo 2020. I want to go on vacation, to catch my breath. It is tiring to be always last (to compete).

Bronze medallist Or Sasson had this to say about his Olympic experience, "It's a big honour for me to give this respect for my country because the people are great. I just love my country. Of course the Olympics are hard for everyone, training for four years, preparing for this event for your (whole) life. For everyone it is hard, and today, I did it. I won the medal for Israel."

Meanwhile the domination of the women’s heavyweight division by the trio of Japan, China and Cuba came to stunning end when Emilie ANDEOL (FRA) who made it a double heavyweight triumph for the French. Andeol can rightly be pleased her win as she managed to dispose of both the current world champion YU Song (CHN) and in the final the reigning Olympic champion Idalys ORTIZ (CUB). Unlikely a winner as Andeol may be she nonetheless proved the best on the day. When asked about how hard the day was for her Andeol said, "Out of 10? It was a nine." Andeol then added, "Well, I couldn't believe it. I had nothing to lose, honestly. This morning was very difficult, but I did what I had to do and here I am Olympic Champion."


+78 kg

1. ANDEOL, Emilie (FRA)

2. ORTIZ, Idalys (CUB)

3. YAMABE, Kanae (JPN)

3. YU, Song (CHN)

+100 kg

1. RINER, Teddy (FRA)

2. HARASAWA, Hisayoshi (JPN)

3. SILVA, Rafael (BRA)

3. SASSON, Or (ISR)

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