Judo: Teddy Riner eager to defend his Olympic gold, despite shoulder inflammation

French judoka Teddy Riner poses with the logo of Paris as candidate for the 2024 Olympic summer games during a press conference in Paris.
French judoka Teddy Riner poses with the logo of Paris as candidate for the 2024 Olympic summer games during a press conference in Paris.PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - France's reigning Olympic judo champion Teddy Riner admitted Monday the desire to defend his 100kg category title in Rio in four months time was all-consuming.

The 27-year-old eight-time world champion returned to international competition a week ago after suffering a left shoulder inflammation on which he will undergo surgery after the Games.

"Now I have to bite the bullet, I said it will not be for this year (the operation)," Riner said ahead of the European championships in Russia from April 21-24.

"The Games, I think about them all the time now," said Riner, who took bronze in Beijing before claiming Olympic gold in London 2012. "There isn't a day that I don't think about the Games, it's every day, several times a day.

"I'm impatient to be in Rio but without wanting to be there straight away."

Riner, bidding for a fifth European crown in Russia, said he was in a very positive mindset: "Positive attitude that's my motto. I'm relaxed and focused. My serenity has returned, my desire to laugh and be joyful are still there.

"It's a great step towards the Games and towards this big preparation that awaits."

The intensity of his training was evident as the heavyweight champion smashed France national team coach Larbi Benboudaoud's wrist at the Judo Grand Prix in Turkey.

Riner had asked Benboudaoud to help him warm-up and during the session the 140kg athlete fell on former world 66kg champion Benboudaoud.

"My wrist swelled up immediately. When I arrived back in Paris I immediately went to hospital where I was operated on. My wrist was like a jigsaw puzzle," Benboudaoud, who coaches the French women's team, told AFP.

Benboudaoud, a Sydney Olympics silver medallist, had four pins inserted with his wrist, which will remain in a splint for six weeks.

"I'm 42 years and it's the first time I've spent the night in hospital. Teddy was very upset," he said.

Riner usually trains with lightweight judokas to try and learn from their speed.

"This is the first time since I started training with the light weights that this has happened to me," he lamented.