“Our programmes are the same. Our weights are the same. Our diets are the same. The only difference is they can see a bit better than I can, and they can drive a car and I can’t.”
With the increase in competition across Paralympic Sport, Great Britain’s Sam Ingram is making sure he will not be left in the dust come London 2012.
The Judo star, who won bronze at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games and silver at last year’s World Championships, is training alongside able-bodied athletes Ewan Burton and Matt Purssey in the lead-up to London 2012 in order to be at the top of his game.
While some para-athletes train separately from their counterparts, most visually impaired Judo athletes actually compete beside able-bodied competitors, Ingram revealed.
“Our programmes are the same. Our weights are the same. Our diets are the same,” Ingram said. “The only difference is they can see a bit better than I can, and they can drive a car and I can’t.”
Ingram likes to train with multiple athletes so he can pick up different grips, sweeps and throws from different people.
Judo, he explains, is much more intricate sport than what meets the eye.
“Quite often, people see Judo as two men rolling around in pajamas,” Ingram chuckled. “But there’s a lot to it and it’s a very complicated sport.”
Ingram said his experience at Beijing 2008 was very dear to his heart, but that he did not have as much practice in the sport at the time as he would have liked.
“I think at that point, I didn’t deserve anything more than a bronze, and I was happy with my results to be honest,” Ingram said.
“I wasn’t overly experienced at the sport of judo, I was really just strong, physical and fit,” Ingram said. “It was like I was training like a dog. I was just using a lot of weight, a lot of power and everything like that.”
Ingram believes nearly 85 percent of his opponents from Beijing will be present again in London, and that he has enough maturity and tactical knowledge in Judo now to be standing atop the podium next September.
The IBSA European Judo Championships in Great Britain in November will test how far Ingram has come this year, and because the top competitors from Beijing all hailed from Europe, the competition is sure to be tough.
After taking the last three and a half years to grow and mature in his sport, Ingram himself insists he is ready to be an entirely different force on the mat.
“Now, I’m a Judo athlete,” he said.