France’s Teddy Riner extends record with 11th world title in judo

Teddy Riner

France’s Teddy Riner earned a record-extending 11th world title in judo in his first world championships appearance since 2017.

Riner, 34, beat Russian Inal Tasoev in the men’s heavyweight final in Doha.

It marked Riner’s return to the top of a global championship podium. Since his last world title in 2017, he skipped worlds in 2018 and 2019 to rest up for the Tokyo Games.

He then took bronze at the Olympics in 2021, snapping a streak of nine consecutive Olympic or world heavyweight titles (when he competed) dating to 2009. He also won two world titles in separate open competitions without weight categories, plus took gold in Tokyo in the Olympic debut of a mixed-gender team event.

Riner, a 6-foot-8-inch native of Guadeloupe, is now the youngest and oldest man to win a world judo title, according to Gracenote. He also went undefeated in 154 matches across all competitions from December 2010 until February 2020.

Riner has sparingly competed since the Tokyo Olympics, but won both of his starts in top-level Grand Slams over the last two years. He missed last year’s worlds due to an ankle injury.

Next year, he can tie the judo record by winning a medal at a fifth Olympics, joining retired Ryoko Tamura-Tani of Japan, according to He can also tie the record of three individual Olympic judo gold medals held by retired Tadahiro Nomura of Japan.

Come the Paris Games, he will be older than all but one previous Olympic judo medalist and two years older than any previous individual Olympic judo gold medalist.

France also boasts the top active female judoka in terms of world titles. Clarisse Agbegnenou, 30, won her sixth world gold on Thursday.

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Mother’s Day: Clarisse Agbegnenou, France judo star, wins world title after 2022 childbirth

Clarisse Agbegnenou

Clarisse Agbégnénou cemented herself as one of the host nation’s biggest gold-medal hopes for the 2024 Paris Games by winning her sixth world judo title, returning to the top of the sport 11 months after having daughter Athena.

Agbégnénou, 30, beat Slovenian Andreja Leški in Wednesday’s 63kg final in Doha.

“It is really for [Athena],” Agbégnénou said. “For days, I said, ‘I’m going to bring you the gold medal.’ Or, at least, ‘I’m going to bring you a medal. I want to put this on your neck.’ Now I can finally do it.”

Agbégnénou prevailed with Athena in attendance. She held her daughter while waiting for the medal ceremony. She made the cover of French sports daily L’Equipe.

“I can say that I am stronger than before,” she said before worlds. “The pregnancy, giving birth, all of this makes you strong. I’m focusing on how she can say, ‘Oh she’s my mom, and she is strong, and I want to be like her.'”

France won more medals in judo (eight) than any other sport at the Tokyo Olympics. Agbégnénou was the lone French athlete across all sports to win multiple golds in Tokyo, taking the 63kg title and being part of the victorious mixed-gender team in that event’s Olympic debut.

After June childbirth, she returned to international judo for a Grand Slam in February. She placed seventh, marking the first time she missed the podium of a top-level global event since 2012. That was her lone competition before worlds.

“I was not in shape,” she said. “I am in shape [now], but I missed some stuff. So I was like, OK, I can get a medal, but winning, it’s going to be complicated.”

Agbégnénou is now one shy of the women’s record of seven world judo titles shared by Japan’s Ryōko Tani and China’s Tong Wen.

Frenchman Teddy Riner holds the overall record of 10 world titles and goes for No. 11 on Saturday.

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Ukraine boycotts judo worlds after Russians, Belarusians allowed as neutrals

Russia Judo

Ukraine is reportedly boycotting next week’s world judo championships after Russians and Belarusians were allowed to participate as neutral athletes.

Ukraine’s national team head coach said Ukraine athletes will not participate, according to Ukraine public broadcaster Suspilne, after the International Judo Federation (IJF) announced Saturday that it would allow neutral athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete internationally. Saturday was the last day of registration for athletes for worlds, according to the coach.

The competition in Doha from May 7-14 would be the first world championships in an Olympic event to include athletes from Russia since the December 2021 World Badminton Championships. Most international sports federations banned Russian and Belarusian athletes after Russia invaded Ukraine, with Belarus as a staging ground, in February 2022.

The IJF said it is allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete “for fair participation and equal chances to all judo athletes who are pursuing their Olympic dreams” as the sport is in the middle of its two-year Olympic qualification window.

The IJF decision came one month after the IOC updated its recommendations to international sports federations, advising that Russians and Belarusians can return to competitions outside of the Olympics as neutral athletes in individual events and only if they do not actively support the war in Ukraine. Previously, the IOC did not recommend allowing Russians and Belarusians to compete in any capacity.

In making its decision, the IJF executive committee “decided to engage an independent, reputable company to perform background checks on all the individuals proposed for participation, including social media content, with specific reference to possible war propaganda,” according to the IJF’s Saturday announcement. “Only those athletes and support personnel who are cleared during this verification process will be eligible and considered for participation in events by the IJF Executive Committee.”

The Ukraine national team head coach disputed that, saying that Russians on the worlds entry list do not meet that criteria, according to Suspilne.

Twenty Russians and Belarusians were on the entry list as of Sunday, including five who were listed as part of the Central Sports Club of the Army in a statement on the Russian Defense Ministry website after they won medals at a competition last year. Four were listed as holding the rank of staff sergeant. Their current military status could not immediately be verified.

Last June, Ukraine boycotted a judo Grand Slam in Mongolia where Russians were allowed to compete as neutral athletes.

Russian and Belarusian athletes were later barred by the IJF last September through the end of 2022, including the October 2022 World Championships, “considering the current international circumstances and in order to ensure the protection of all athletes in the sport of judo.”

Russian and Belarusian athletes have not been on the entry lists for any of the judo Grand Slams in 2023.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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