He has everything to complete a never-before-seen work of art. The Frenchman is seeking his third Olympic title, to add to his ten world and four European golds. His thing is not to enter the pantheon but to destroy the door with a ram and to sit on the throne of eternity.
Teddy Riner has crossed the borders of judo by himself because he has exercised both physical and mental dominance over his rivals for more than ten years. He has only lost two bouts since 2008, when Nicolas Sarkozy and George W. Bush were presidents of France and the United States. Riner is part of that cast of gifted elect who walk on water as if it were something normal. When an athlete has won his game before starting because the opponent has already surrendered, that explains everything about the abysmal superiority between Riner and the rest and the strict and firm control that he maintains over a discipline. Riner is more than a gigantic track record, it is the mold that many have wanted to imitate. There has been grotesque plagiarism and the Frenchman has always emerged from all traps with his head held high and a gold medal. His 2020 loss to Japan's Kokoro Kageura was not the sign of impending decline but rather the message of poor form. Riner understood it and when he reappeared in Doha, he did the usual: win without breaking a sweat.
He has not returned to compete, he does not need to and that annoys many because he goes to Tokyo as number 16 in the world, which means that any seed, even the first or second, can face the French in the first round. That is why the category of the heaviest is a myth, because in addition to the kilos and the size of the judoka, Riner is the planet around which all the satellites revolve.
Take the case of Tamerlan Bashaev, first in Antalya, first again in Kazan and second in the World Championships in Budapest. Those are some results that have allowed him to reach Tokyo as world number one, which, in any other category, except in –73kg, would be a guarantee of initial tranquility. With Riner no-one is able to sleep and only the most unconscious will arrive relaxed. Maybe that's the key to knocking down the French colossus.
Check out the Czech Lukas Krpaleck and the Georgian Guram Tushishvili and of course the Japanese Hisayoshi Harasawa and the Dutch Henk Grol, all sculpted after Riner to finish him off. They have all lost to him. However, for two years there is the hope of making Riner fall because he has competed little, he has not been in shape and he has even lost, but at the hands of a young man who is now world champion but will not participate in the Games.
All the aspirants are true mountains, such as Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua, Mount Wilson or Mont Blanc. Riner is not Everest but the entire Himalayan range. Winning against him would be, without a doubt, one of the greatest feats of all time. Riner's victory would be even greater for what it would represent, but also normal and that is what is not normal. At the moment, while waiting for the draw, everyone trembles and one smiles.