In the preparation of Teddy Riner before his “last trip” to the Paris Olympics

The double Olympic champion and ten times world champion of Judo, Teddy Riner, will fight for the first time of the year this Sunday during the Grand Slam of Paris. A return to the tatami after his defeat against the Georgian Guram Tushishvili in his last fight last November, and especially just over a year before the Paris Olympics, which should be “Teddy’s last trip, or almost “, according to his sports manager Laurent Calleja.

The closer this competition, which could mark the end of the champion’s career, the more he fears a possible injury. “If there is one event you can’t miss, it’s these Olympics at home, so I’m careful. All the staff are focused on it. The truth is, when I step onto a mat, I’m scared. [Lors de mon stage de préparation] in Kazakhstan, I was very afraid of injuring myself, because you had to see the templates in the face”, admitted Teddy Riner at the start of the week.

And for good reason, during the last Olympic Games in Tokyo, in 2021, Teddy Riner had arrived diminished after his injury to the posterior ligament of the knee which occurred in February in Morocco. He had done everything to first hide it, before giving everything to return to his level, but the reigning Olympic champion at the time had to settle for a bronze medal, which was more limited than he expected. would have liked.

Totally different strategy than before Tokyo

With his staff made up of, among others, Laurent Calleja, his sports manager, Julien Corvo, his physical trainer and Brieuc Gobé, his dietician, they therefore decided to draw the consequences, and to make profound changes to prepare for the Games. Paris 2024 Olympics, at home. “Our strategy is different from that of the Tokyo Olympic Games, because we want to present ourselves at a large number of competitions between now and the Paris Olympics, with a lot of fights to regain the dynamics of competition. Teddy loves change, and he can’t spend the same four years of preparation. It may be his last Olympics, so we want him to enjoy the last two years. He is a fighter who loves competition, he was born for that, ”explains his sports manager.

After the Rio Olympics, the Olympic champion had taken a two-year break, before relaunching in an intense and painful preparation before those of Tokyo. “The data is the same for everyone, the preparation has in fact gone from four years to three years. Teddy had suffered so much to find the level for Tokyo, that we did not want to repeat the same thing. We preferred to smooth the preparation over three years, rather than two, to make a little less effort on a daily basis, on his weight, his physical level and his cardio. We maintain the balance,” confides Laurent Calleja.

After Tokyo, Teddy Riner only granted himself a three-week break, before quickly resuming training. “We did it gradually, just so that he would move, avoid getting too dirty, and resume in a less brutal way,” explains Brieuc Gobé, his dietitian. With the consideration of all the complexity of the individual, beyond the athlete, who for example has become a father, in addition to being very much in demand. “His whole environment impacts his physical and emotional state, so we take all of that into consideration, with a more complex global approach,” he adds.

Despite the pain, Teddy Riner “kiffe”

Teddy Riner and his team plan, for example, to cut off all solicitations related to his sponsors before the next Olympic Games, because at 33 years old and after 16 years of competition, Teddy Riner’s body “shits”. “I have no more cartilage. I’m waiting for science to figure out how to rebuild cartilage. I have to do injections so that it does not block [il montre ses doigts]. So yeah, I suck. But I have a medical staff that helps me, I do prevention, strengthening the forearms to precisely compensate for that. When I say I changed everything, it’s true, I changed everything to be better, to feel my body less”.

Which doesn’t mean not listening to him anymore: “When there is information that says ‘today, we are less well’, well, we ease off, it doesn’t matter. In the past I would have said “It’s being weak to slow down, you have to continue”. No, today we are doing quality, “says the judoka.

Result, Teddy Riner has just had the “best season of his life”, as he confided to 20 minutes last September. “I am surrounded by a staff that I know, dedicated to my project, where we spend quality time on the mat, outside for physical preparation”, he savors. Something to enjoy again, and imagine pushing a little further than the 2024 Olympic Games. “And if that continues, why not 2028? I wait to be tired, disgusted with judo, to leave. Today I like it, when I see how I take the guys who win all the competitions and that I feel good, I want to continue”. To do this, he will already have to start by winning, he, the competitor who has never thirsted for victory, and this from this Sunday, before the next Doha World Championships, next May and a possible eleventh world title. Before a third Olympic gold medal in Paris?

source site