The first day of the World Openweight Judo Championships in Marrakesh saw Teddy Riner set out to claim an unprecedented tenth world title.
The Frenchman is the very definition of a superstar and after a win in his opening bout against Iurii Krakovetskii of Kygyzstan he had a chance to show his metal in only the second round as he faced his biggest challenger Georgia’s Guram Tushishvili.
The reigning European champion is seen by many as the only man capable of dethroning Riner, but in Marrakesh it would not be his day.
Despite pushing Riner to the limit in Budapest, two waza ari scores against Tushishvili put the challenger in his place as the eagerly anticipated rematch – a pairing that would have made for an incredibly entertaining final -ended in Riner’s favour.
With Tushishvili out, nothing could stand in Riner’s way as he swept aside Facial Jaballah of Tunisia in the third round after throwing for waza ari and then holding for an ippon win.
At the quarter final stage he threw for ippon, a fantastic uchimata that saw him past Mongolia’s Temuulen Battulga and into the semi finals.
There he saw off the challenge of Cuba’s Granda to leave himself just one win away from his tenth world title.
In our VIP corner we asked fellow Frenchman and former Judo champion David Douillet about Riner’s achievements.
Douillet described Riner’s achievements in the sport as “fantastic”.
He said: “It’s fantastic for Teddy but also for French judo, I’m so happy to have a boy like Teddy in our ranks and that French judo is coming out on top at every world competition.
“It’s so important, it’s rare to have athletes like that. Teddy is one of the best in the history of world judo.”
Riner’s opponent in the final was Belgium’s Toma Nikiforov who produced an incredible dropping shoudler throw against Morroco’s Adil Hajji on his route to the gold medal match.
The sub-100 kg fighter showcased the unique attraction of the openweight championships as he made the final in true David and Goliath style.
However, in this story, it was Goliath who won. Riner would not be stopped. He imposed himself with two waza ari scores as Nikiforov struggled to contain his sheer power.
And whilst Riner was unable to land a killer ippon blow to his counter part, as the final gong sounded his emotion came pouring out as the enormity of his achievement sunk in.
He was awarded his tenth world championship gold medal by Mr Rachid Talbi Alani, Minister of Youth and Sport of the Kingdom of Morroco.
Speaking of his achievement, Riner said: “It’s true that it’s a different style because there were a range of different weight classes.
“But I am so incredibly happy, because never in my life would I have thought that I would be ten times world champion.
“When I started doing judo, I never thought I would have been a world champion even once. It’s also the ‘all categories’ event, it’s the most prestigious Judo title and I’m proud to have won. “