Does Teddy Riner suffer from a lack of competition in Judo?

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This is a famous quote from Corneille: “To conquer without peril is to triumph without glory.” Everyone knows it. Some people are tempted to apply it to Teddy Riner to explain why, at almost 35 years old (he will be on April 7th), the French judoka continues to dominate his heavyweight category even though he competes so rarely. This debate seems unnecessary, except perhaps in France, the country where people love to tear down their idols.

Recently, handball player Allison Pineau, in an interview for the release of her autobiography “Alli: Story of a Champion,” confided that in France, “people often have a problem with success.” This applies to financial, media, and athletic success. For anyone familiar with Spain and its sports culture, it would never occur to them to claim that Rafael Nadal wins Roland-Garros so often because the competition is mediocre. Similarly, no one in Spain would diminish the achievements of the Spanish national team in soccer, basketball, or any other sport by attributing their success to weak opponents.

This type of attitude seems to be unique to the French sports landscape, a landscape that has often been criticized for being overly critical of its champions. Teddy Riner’s dominance cannot simply be attributed to a lack of competition. In summary, the issue of Teddy Riner’s continued success should not be reduced to the absence of strong competition in his sport. This type of reasoning undermines the hard work, talent, and dedication that Riner has consistently demonstrated throughout his career.

Instead of questioning his triumphs, it would be more appropriate to celebrate his accomplishments and acknowledge the impact he has had on the sport of judo.

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