Teddy Riner to make his 2020 debut in Paris as he steps up his preparation for Tokyo
The 'king of judo' is finally ready to compete in his first tournament of the Olympic year.
Two-time gold medallist Teddy Riner has confirmed his presence at the 2020 Paris Grand Slam, seven years after his last participation at the event.
"It's an important date in my calendar," he told reporters at the French National Institute of Sport, Expertise, and Performance (INSEP),
"I'm currently at 75-80% of my best form and I can still improve by continuing to work." - Teddy Riner
"With regard to my preparation, it's well-placed (in the calendar) as it gives me a boost of pressure." Riner told reporters.
"It'll allow me to prepare under every level and face the best, because there'll be a lot of people in my category."
Riner is unbeaten since September 2010 and is aiming for his sixth title in the French capital.
The tournament will take place at the AccorHotels Arena in Bercy and the 10-time world champion will step on the mat on 9 February.
Despite the absence of the last two world champions Lukas Krpalek and Guram Tushishvili, the Paris event will still be an important test for Riner.
"There's going to be a lot of people, a lot of pressure, you'll need to perfect on the mat to cope with the new rules," the Frenchman added.
"I have to face everybody and beat everybody" - Teddy Riner
"This is going to help me with six months to the Games. If there's something that doesn't work - and I expect to happen - I'll have the time to fix it."
The three-time Olympic medallist also confirmed that he will continue until Paris 2024, when he will be 35.
"After that I'm done, it will be the end!' he joked with the reporters at the INSEP.
Riner made his victorious comeback last July in Montreal after a 26-month break.
The 30-year-old then featured only in Brasilia, in October, when he beat the local favourite David Moura in the +100kg final.
In the following weeks, a broken rib forced him to withdraw from the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam and the Perth Oceania Open, as the injury prevented him from practising judo for "three or four weeks", according to his coach Franck Chambily.
With 1,700 points in the Olympic rankings of the International Judo Federation, the Frenchman is virtually qualified for Tokyo.
A better placement would help him have a more favorable draw at the Games, and a win in Paris would guarantee him 1,000 points.
Riner added that, "if everything goes well", he should take part in the Rabat Grand Prix in Morocco from 6-8 March.
The tournament will be streamed live on the Olympic Channel.
His last competition before the Olympics will probably take place in May or June, but it hasn't "been decided yet."
'Big Ted' has an unbeaten run stretching for a total of 152 bouts.
Japanese judoka Yamashita Yasuhiro won the Olympic gold medal in 1984 and still holds the record of 203 consecutive wins, 51 more than Riner.