Three years after his last appearance at Bercy, Teddy Riner qualified on Sunday for the final of the Paris Judo Grand Slam, where Romane Dicko will fight for bronze.
In the semi-final of the +100 kg category, the Frenchman beat the Uzbek Alisher Yusupov, 6th in the world, on penalties before the end of regulation time.
During the final block scheduled from 5:00 p.m., he will face the Japanese Hyoga Ota to try to win a seventh title in the prestigious Parisian tournament, and thus equal the record of the French Lucie Decosse.
For his entry into the running, the 33-year-old Guadeloupe had defeated Bahraini Azamat Chotchaev in an expeditious manner, scoring an ippon after 29 seconds.
In the next round, he needed 2 min 35 sec to defeat Kazakh Adil Orazbayev, surprise winner of Brazilian double Olympic medalist Rafael Silva.
Then in the quarter-finals, the fight against Azerbaijani Dzhamal Gamzatkhanov went to extra time.
Back from injury, Riner is playing his first Grand Slam since that of Budapest in June 2022, which then marked his return to international competition after his long post-Tokyo Olympics break.
Last October, the ten-time world champion was forced to forfeit the Worlds in Uzbekistan due to a sprained right ankle. He had returned to competition in the final of the Champions League by teams disputed in Georgia on November 26 with his club PSG.
The other leader of French judo, Romane Dicko, will aim for a bronze medal.
The new +78kg world champion won her repechage fight against Dutch Marit Kamps to allow her to face Turkish Hilal Ozturk for third place.
Dicko had fallen in the quarter-finals against Tunisian Kayra Sayit, whom she had beaten for bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Abused, she bowed to penalties during extra time.
The 23-year-old Frenchwoman had however started her day perfectly by dispatching her first opponent, the Tunisian Sara Mzougui by ippon after only 1 min 07 of combat.
Besides Riner, three other tricolors can aim for gold: Audrey Tcheuméo and Chloé Buttigieg, who compete in the -78 kg final, and Marie-Eve Gahié, in the -70 kg final.