“Even in Seine-Saint Denis, we can shine”: triple Olympic champion Teddy Riner meets young judokas

Even in Seine Saint Denis we can shine triple Olympic champion

A few weeks before the Games, sporting festivities are multiplying in France, like the one organized a few days ago in Seine-Saint-Denis. Young judokas were able to meet their idol, Teddy Riner during training and a belt presentation. A nice spotlight on Seine-Saint-Denis which also hosts the athletes’ village and a final appearance for the three-time Olympic champion who is aiming for a fourth Olympic gold medal, at home this time.

It’s coming, it’s coming! Come on, let’s clap our hands! Noise, noise! », proclaims the host whose words resonate through the speakers. On the square in front of the town hall of Saint-Denis, north of Paris, 200 apprentice judokas are impatiently waiting for Teddy Riner. Everyone tries to see him, as best they can, on tiptoe or from the shoulders of a parent.

But impossible to miss Teddy Riner and his 2.04m who finally arrives, under the eyes of Louise, 13 years old. She has been practicing judo since she was 4 and grew up following the exploits of the Frenchman: “ With my father, we often watch his judo matches. He inspires me a lot for my judo classes and during my competitions. Sometimes I try to reproduce his techniques to achieve a shot. »

The judokas line up one behind the other to receive their new belts from the French athlete. “ Congratulations big guy! », compliments Teddy Riner when handing over a green belt to a young judokate. “ I’m going to keep it all my life! », she exclaims. Another assures him: “ I’m going to put it away so no one takes it from me! »

A green belt also for Ahmed, 15 years old: “ It’s truly an honor. I’m going to love my green belt more than my black belt! Because it was a great man who gave it to me! » A great man, eleven times world champion and three times Olympic champion, whose record impresses as much as his size: “ It’s much bigger than I thoughtAhmed continues. I suspected he was big, but here he is really big! I encouraged him for his competition in August. »

He gives us something, we have a part of him! »

This fervor, less than fifty days before the event, is for Teddy Riner a way of garnering maximum energy. “ It’s nice to see the encouragement, to see the smiles on the children’s faces, this euphoria. I use this to prepare myself and not disappoint them at the Games! », confides the Guadeloupean athlete.

Impossible, in any case, to be disappointed after such a meeting, believes Youssef, educator of a club in Seine-Saint-Denis. “ For the little ones, it’s been a year since they started judo. It’s their first belt, and they received it from one of the greatest medalists in France. We don’t just see Teddy Riner, he gives us something too, we have a part of him. This will leave a mark on them. And it shows that even in Seine-Saint-Denis, we can shine, even in Seine-Saint-Denis, we can stand out from the crowd. Its very important. »

There were 200 apprentice judokas from Seine-Saint-Denis who came to meet their idol.

The Olympic spirit and the values ​​of judo echo in Saint-Denis, adds its mayor, Mathieu Hanotin: “ These values ​​of solidarity, fraternity and ambition for the territory resonate with what Saint-Denis wants to be in terms of a model of cosmopolitan society, which works, which is successful and which is desirable. »

A few more minutes and Teddy Riner will leave the tatami mats installed for the occasion. The time has come to engrave the last memories. “ Get in front if you want to be in the photo! », enjoins the champion, before disappearing.