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Who is Teddy Riner – the French judoka world champion?

If you’re not French, the chances are you haven’t heard of Teddy Riner. However, in France, he is one of the most influential sportspersons. It seems that martial arts have universal appeal. Regardless of country, there is some form of martial arts that is popular. Teddy Riner is Judoka by trade and fits into this category nicely. However, Riner’s influence goes well beyond the world of sports.

His involvement in projects led by UNICEF France, the Institute of Genetic Diseases, and other organizations made Riner one of the favorite celebrities in the country. Outside of France, Rider remains synonymous with judo, a combat sport in which he’s set numerous records over the course of his 15+ years’ long professional career.

Riner Making the French Obsess With Judo

Although Riner won a number of medals as a junior, the first time he really caught the media’s attention was when he became the European Champion. He won the title on his 18th birthday in 2007. A year later, he became the world champ in the +100 kg category. He was the youngest judoka to do so.

Since then, he has won another nine World Championship gold medals. Breaking the record for number of medals along the way. As of 2022, he remains at the top of the all time medals list.

In addition, Riner has also won three gold medals at the Olympics. The most recent of those at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics where he won gold with the French judo team. His incredible success isn’t the only reason why the French public has gone into a “Riner Craze”. Standing at 6’8” (2.04m) and weighing about 290 pounds (~130kg), Riner is famous as a friendly giant with a reputation for fun interviews. His media-friendliness has made him one of the favorite guests of French talk shows and podcasters. For instance, we recently saw Riner making an appearance on a Spotify podcast by the French-American NBA legend Tony Parker.

Among the things the two sporting legends discussed are Riner’s future as a judoka, a potential transition to MMA, and his involvement in French youth sports.

Riner Trying to Prove That “Judo is for all”

Turning 33 this April, Riner needs to start thinking about his post-judo career. Judo athletes tend to retire in their thirties because of how intense the sport can be. David Douillet, one of Riner’s biggest influences, ended his professional career as a judoka at the age of 31. Just after he had won gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

When Riner retires, his life isn’t going to get boring. On the contrary, it’s likely he’ll have plenty of work on his hands to keep him occupied. It’s because Riner has already started involving himself in a number of projects.

He’s been a UNICEF France goodwill ambassador for several years, focusing on the wellbeing of underprivileged children. Riner has also been involved with a project run by the Institute of Genetic Diseases, which involves raising money for the institute through a series of charity auctions.

On top of everything, Riner also runs his own judo organization. Named the Teddy Riner Judoka Foundation, runs under the motto “judo is for all” which explains what the organization is all about. By getting children and young adults interested in judo, Riner is hoping to get them off the streets and help them make healthy life choices.

What’s Next for Teddy Riner?

The next challenge on Riner’s professional agenda is to help the French national team dethrone Japan in the upcoming World Judo Team Championship. The Japanese have won the gold medal in each of the previous six instances of the competition, the most recent being the 2021 tournament held in Budapest, Hungary. The 2022 Championship is taking place in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in August.

Three months earlier, Riner will have a chance to add a few more medals to his collection by winning the European Judo Championship. The continental championship is taking place in Sofia, Bulgaria from April 29 through May 1.

Other judo competitions Riner might take part in the near future include the IJF Grand Slam and the IJF Grand Prix. Then, there’s also the Judo World Masters, which is the last championship where we saw him winning the gold medal. Held in January 2021 in Doha, Qatar, the event saw Riner win gold in the +100 category.

The same year, he took part in the Tokyo Olympics, but his campaign ended not with the gold medal but with bronze. He will probably have another shot at the Olympic gold in two years. That’s when his hometown of Paris will be hosting the 2021 Summer Olympics. Sure, Riner will be 35 at the time of the Games but with the support of his own crowd, he could get to his fourth Olympic gold.

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