Riner, who has not lost a match in six years, a run including 98 matches, had to overcome a tough challenge from Israel's Or Sasson in the semi-final before defeating Hisayoshi Harasawa on penalties in the gold medal match.
Riner, who claimed a bronze in Beijing in 2008, becomes the third judoka to claim gold in the men's +100kg in back-to-back Olympic Games after David Douillet (FRA) in 1996-2000 and Hitoshi Saito (JPN) 1984-1988.
“Today is a big day, for my life, because I have a new gold medal,” Riner explained. “I am very happy for my family and for my friends. This Olympiad has been very hard because I had an injury, but today I won. It's a big dream. Each competition is a new start. I like my sport, I like the challenge, and I like the gold medal.”
Andeol ends French drought
Riner's victory came hot on the heels of compatriot Emilie Andeol's gold in the women's +78kg division, which was France's first judo gold of their Rio campaign. Andeol knocked out top seed Yu Song (CHN) in the semi-final, before finally beating London gold medalist Ortiz in over three minutes of "golden score" extra time with a match-ending ippon. An ippon is the highest score a fighter can achieve.
“Out of 10? It was a nine,” said Andeol on the difficulty of her encounter with Ortiz. “I can’t believe it. I had nothing to lose, honestly. This morning was very difficult, but I did what I had to do and here I am Olympic Champion.”
Ortiz's silver is her third Olympic medal. As well as gold in 2012, she won bronze in Beijing in 2008. Kanae Yamabe won bronze, which was Japan’s 11th medal, a record by an NOC in judo in a single Olympic Games.
France, one of just three countries fielding a full team of 14 judokas in Rio, had claimed two silver medals and one bronze heading into the final day of Olympic judo action.