By Victoria Donu and IBSA
Great Britain’s Sam Ingram is a picture of calm serenity in the lead-up to the start of the 2019 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Judo season in Baku, Azerbaijan, from 13-14 May.
The World Championships and London 2012 Paralympic silver medallist is on a mission to return to the podium at Tokyo 2020 having missed out at Rio 2016.
The 33-year-old is focusing on being in the moment, and not getting too caught up in the hype.
“The experience is not so much about individual contest, its more the whole event,” Ingram said. “It doesn’t really excite me like it did at the beginning. I also try to save more energy and focus on training. It’s just another opportunity to test my abilities therefore my goal is to experience the event rather than being too nervous. I’ve started to put my own pressure on myself and not think of what other people want.”
Ingram will compete at the IBSA Judo Grand Prix in Baku off the back of his highest finish at a major international Championships since 2015. His silver medal followed an impressive run before he lost out to Georgia’s Paralympic champion Zviad Gogotchuri in the men’s up to 100kg final.
He now hopes for a medal in Tokyo but recognises that the road will be challenging.
“He [Gogotchuri] is physically and tactically very good. He comes from an environment where the level of judo is very high. I’ve lost to him a few times however I see value in having real opponents. It’s not worth winning if the competitive level isn’t strong enough.”
Since taking up judo and progressing to the elite level at the relatively late age of 18, Ingram has achieved incredible results to become Great Britain’s most decorated Para judoka.
Despite this, he is still philosophical about winning and losing:
“I am not so obsessed with winning although I enjoy it. I enjoy more the competition and the journey. It’s a strange thing but I think I enjoy the challenge more than the success.
"Sometimes when you’re successful the happiness isn’t a huge as you think it may be.”
The opening IBSA Judo Grand Prix of 2019 will take place from 13-14 May in Baku, ahead of the 2019 IBSA Judo European Championships in Genova, Italy, from 26-28 July.