American draws world champ in Olympic judo draw

Aug. 07, 2008, 9:43 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Don't talk to Sayaka Matsumoto about the luck of the draw.

On Thursday, the American began her first Olympics by drawing extra-lightweight world judo champion Ryoko Tani of Japan, who is attempting to win her third consecutive Olympic gold, for her first match.

Matsumoto, of Richmond, Calif., was probably the unluckiest of the 386 athletes in the draw. Tani, who has won seven world championships, is making her fifth Olympic appearance in the under-48 kilogram division and has never finished worse than second.

At the other end of the scales, French world champion Teddy Riner, who at 6-foot-8 is the tallest competitor in the judo event, will be matched against world No. 26 Anis Chedly, of Tunisia.

"There are no good or bad draws," said the 19-year-old Riner, who has become a star in France for his rapid rise to the top of the judo world over the past two years. "Now we can start the competition."

Riner is fighting in the over 100-kilogram heavyweight class.

The Olympic judo competition at the Beijing Games begins Saturday, with the extra-lightweight divisions for men and women, and concludes with the heavyweight finals on Aug. 15.

Athletes from 92 countries are participating.