Teddy Riner leads French gold rush on last day of Doha Masters

Olympic champion Teddy Riner of France reacts after winning the Men's +100kg Judo final at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Olympic champion Teddy Riner of France reacts after winning the Men's +100kg Judo final at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Double Olympic champion one of three French judoka to triumph as the season-opening World Judo Tour event concluded in Qatar

A confident and slick-looking Teddy Riner comfortably saw off Inal Tasoev to win the Doha Masters to open his 2021 World Judo Tour season.

Riner was never troubled by his Russian opponent, the world number three, and looked back to his best after a surprise 2020 season which included two defeats.

It was France's third gold medal of the day and fifth of the tournament.

Earlier, there was also French success in the women's half-heavyweight (-78 kg) and heavyweight (+78 kg) categories.

In the under-78 kg class, world champion Madeleine Malonga defeated HAMADA Shori of Japan in a repeat of the 2019 world final.

Romane Dicko scored an impressive victory in the heavyweight category, coming through her pool by defeating world no.1 and three-time Olympic medallist Idalys Ortiz before seeing off world number seven Kayra Sayit of Turkey in the semi-finals and world number four Iryna Kindzerska of Azerbaijan in the final.

Each of Dicko's four victories in the competition came by ippon.

In the men's -90 kg, Dutch world champion Noel van 't End defeated Beka Gvinishvili of Georgia in the final after scoring a waza-ari 1:39 into the bout and eventually took his opponent down for an ippon score.

Gvinishvili's teammate Varlam Liparteliani, the Rio silver medallist at -90 kg, clinched -100 kg gold in a tense final.

Clarisse Agbegnenou takes Doha Masters under-63 kg title

Agbegnenou was another French judoka to open her season in style with an ippon win over Japan's NABEKURA Nami in the -63 kg final.

The Rio 2016 silver medallist, the top seed in the class, was pushed to golden score by Nabekura but triumphed after 2:41 of the extra period.

Agbegnenou's route to the final was nearly ended at the first hurdle after a first-round bye, as Britain's Lucy Renshaw pushed her to golden score before the Frenchwoman scored a waza-ari.

Japan's ONO Yoko, a two-time world champion in the mixed team event, fought her way to -70 kg victory with world No.1 and No.2 Marie-Eve Gahie and Margaux Pinot of France both suffering surprise early exits.

Ono beat world No. 3  Sanne van Dijk in her semi-final bout in the golden score period after receiving her third shido penalty before defeating Russian Federation's Madina Taimazova in the final with a ne-waza takedown.

There was a shock in the men's -73 kg final, as world number two and 2017 world champion HASHIMOTO Soichi was defeated by Republic of Korea's An Chang-rim, his successor as world champion.

Hashimoto was penalised with a hansoku-make, only awarded for serious infractions of the rules, on an attempted waki-gatame armlock. That awarded the victory to An by ippon by default.

Tato Grigalashvili of Georgia claimed victory in the men's under-81 kg. The recently-crowned European champion took down Frank De Wit of the Netherlands with a tomoe nage takedown to score an ippon win.

Olympic champ Majlinda Kelmendi takes bronze

On the first day of the Doha Masters, Kosovan Majlinda Kelmendi fought her way to bronze. The 29-year-old won through her women's -52 kg pool before losing to France's Amandine Buchard in the semi-finals by ippon.

Buchard went on to win her final against SHISHIME Ai of Japan through an ippon, while Kelmendi beat Charline van Snick in the repechage to clinch bronze.

Rio 2016 silver medallist An Ba-ul of Republic of Korea began his season by clinching the men's -66 kg category after both his semi-final and final went to sudden death.

In the semi-finals, An and Moldovan Denis Vieru went to five minutes 39 seconds of extra sudden-death competition before Vieru received his third shido warning for non-combativity and the Korean was awarded the victory.

Israel's Baruch Shmailov took An to extra time in the final too, before An pulled off a takedown 2:23 into golden score and was awarded a waza-ari score, ending the bout.

Two-time women's -48 kg world champion Daria Bilodid was beaten in the semi-finals as she clinched bronze in her weight class.

Japanese star TONAKI Funa, who lost to Bilodid in the world championship finals of 2018 and 2019, beat the Ukrainian by ippon in Qatar, before going on to lose to eventual winner Distria Krasniqi of Kosovo. Bilodid beat Catarina Costa of Portugal by ippon in the repechage.

Women's -57 kg world number one Jessica Klimkait of Canada also leaves Qatar with bronze after being defeated by Sarah Cysique of France by waza-ari in the semi-finals.

While Yoshida Tsukasa of Japan would go on to beat Cysique in the final, Klimkait – who has to beat defending world champion Christa Deguchi to take Canada's only Tokyo 2020 spot in the weight class – hauled Timna Nelson Levy of Israel down for an ippon win in the repechage.

The day's other event, the men's -60 kg, was won by Korean Kim Won-jin.

Up next on the World Judo Tour is the Tel Aviv Grand Slam 2021 from 18-21 February.