Teddy Riner defends Olympic judo title in men's heavyweight
Riner now holds three Olympic medals, as he keeps his winning streak of nearly six years intact
Teddy Riner showed why he's considered the most dominant man in judo, winning all four of his matches in the men's heavyweight division to earn his second straight Olympic title and third Olympic medal overall.
After a Round of 16 bout that ended in a pin after just 65 seconds and a quartefinal match won by waza-ari, Riner was put to the test in his semifinal fight with Israeli judoka Or Sasson. With no scores on the board, Riner picked up a penalty to tie the match. As the clock wound down, it appeared the bout would go into golden score, but Riner had a buzzer-beating throw on Sasson that scored a waza-ari right as the clock hit zeroes.
With Japan's Hisayoshi Harasawa, the world No. 2 behind Riner, also winning his semifinal, the gold medal final most people were hoping to see came to fruition.
Riner entered the day on a winning streak that dates back to September 2010, while Harasawa recently had a 22-month winning streak finally come to an end. Despite being the world's top two judoka in the weight class, Riner and Harasawa had never before fought each other.
What ensued was more of a tactical bout. In the Gold Medal Match, Harasawa picked up an early penalty and trailed on shidos for the rest of the uneventful fight. With neither judoka putting any scores on the board, the 6-foot-8 Riner earned the victory by virtue of having one fewer shido at the end of play.
With the win, Riner now holds back-to-back gold medals to go with a bronze medal won in 2008. He also became the second French judoka to win gold on Friday, with female heavyweight Emilie Andeol beating reigning Olympic champion Idalys Ortiz shortly before.
Harasawa's medal was the 12th for Japan in judo — easily the most of any country. The nation's seven judo medals at the London Games were seen as a disappointment for the country that invented the sport.
Brazilian judoka Rafael Silva claimed one of the two bronze medals after defeating Uzbekistan's Abdullo Tangriev in a medal match. Tangriev, the 2008 silver medalist, was strong in the early rounds, but the 35-year-old began to wear down once the tournament reached the semifinals.
Sasson, who earlier in the day was snubbed by an Egyptian athlete he defeated, won the other bronze medal.
Men's heavyweight results
Gold: Teddy Riner (FRA)
Silver: Hisayoshi Harasawa (JPN)
Bronze: Or Sasson (ISR)
Bronze: Rafael Silva (BRA)