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Paris Olympics: What to know and who to watch during the judo competition

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A roadmap to follow for the men’s and women’s judo tournaments at the Paris Olympics:

Athletes to Watch

—Teddy Riner, France: The world’s most famous active judoka attempts to cap his incredible career with a record-tying third individual Olympic gold medal in front of his home fans. Now 35, Riner took a shocking quarterfinal loss in Tokyo, but the 11-time world champion heavyweight still won gold in the mixed team event.

—Uta Abe and Hifumi Abe, Japan: The siblings will attempt to win gold medals on the same day in the second consecutive Olympics. They accomplished the unprecedented feat three years ago in Tokyo, and both have won world championships in both of the two years since then.

—Clarisse Agbegnenou, France: The six-time world champion is the favorite to win her second straight Olympic gold. She’s trying to do it at home and less than two years after giving birth to her daughter.

—Lukas Krpalek, Czech Republic: Riner could get beaten to history by Krpalek, the comparatively unsung two-time Olympic champion who seized heavyweight gold in Tokyo after Riner was upset. Riner and Krpalek haven’t fought each other since 2019. Krpalek’s rival, Guram Tushishvili of Georgia, also is in the heavyweight field.

Storylines to Follow

—This tournament will feature repeated clashes between the two titans of the sport: Japan and France. Both nations have qualified judokas in all 14 weight classes. After the Japanese team won nine gold medals in Tokyo, the French team is loaded with gold-medal contenders for its own home Games. Everything builds to a scintillating possible matchup in the mixed team final between defending Olympic champion France and Japan, which beat France in the final at last year’s world championships.

—Riner’s pursuit of history will be the biggest day of the competition, but with the French star on the back half of his career and Japan’s fearsome Shohei Ono in retirement, the stage is set for contenders to assert themselves as the world’s top judoka. The men’s half-heavyweight division looks particularly stacked, with Olympic gold medalist Aaron Wolf of Japan and two-time world champ Nikoloz Sherazadishvili of Spain looming.

—The mixed team event debuted to acclaim at the Tokyo Games, and the fighters in this individualistic sport thoroughly embraced a chance to compete together. The Paris tournament will also end with the group competition.

Key Dates

—Judo begins on July 27 and concludes on Aug. 3 with the mixed team competition. The bouts will be held at Champ-de-Mars Arena, a temporary facility built in the public green space stretching out from the Eiffel Tower.

Reigning Champions

—Men’s 60 kg: Naohisa Takato, Japan.

—Men’s 66 kg: Hifumi Abe, Japan.

—Men’s 73 kg: Shohei Ono, Japan.

—Men’s 81 kg: Takanori Nagase, Japan.

—Men’s 90 kg: Lasha Bekauri, Georgia.

—Men’s 100 kg: Aaron Wolf, Japan.

—Men’s +100 kg: Lukas Krpalek, Czech Republic.

—Women’s 48 kg: Distria Krasniqi, Kosovo.

—Women’s 52 kg: Uta Abe, Japan.

—Women’s 57 kg: Nora Gjakova, Kosovo.

—Women’s 63 kg: Clarisse Agbegnenou, France.

—Women’s 70 kg: Chizuru Arai, Japan.

—Women’s 78 kg: Shori Hamada, Japan.

—Women’s +78 kg: Akira Sone, Japan.

—Mixed team: France.

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AP Summer Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games

By The Associated Press

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