Paralympic judoka Sam Ingram targets Commonwealth berth

By Nick HopeBBC Paralympic sports reporter
Paralympic judoka Sam Ingram aims to qualify for the 2014 Commonwealth Games

Paralympic silver medallist Sam Ingram wants to become the first disabled judoka to compete against non-disabled athletes at Glasgow 2014.

Visually-impaired Ingram, 27, won -90kg bronzeexternal-link at the able-bodied British Championships on Sunday and believes Commonwealth qualification is possible.

"Fighting for Scotland in Glasgow is a really big goal for me," said Ingram.

"My eye-sight is a bit worse than theirs and I'm not as quick on the grips, but I can compete with them."

He added: "If I can break through into more mainstream or able-bodied judo I can get more match experience and understand the tactics more because on the Paralympic scene there aren't quite so many tournaments."

Although disabled sports were introduced for the 2002 Manchester Games they remain a small portion of the Commonwealth programme.

In Delhi 2010 there were 15 events for disabled athletes to compete in across four sports: athletics, swimming, powerlifting and women's table tennis.

In Glasgow there will be 19 events, with table tennis dropping out and both track cycling and lawn bowls joining the line-up.

There is a precedent for disabled athletes competing against non-disabled athletes at the Commonwealth Games, with Beijing and London Paralympic gold medallist Danielle Brown winning an historic team archery gold for England in Delhi.

Like Brown, Ingram must also follow the non-disabled competition route if he is to compete in his favoured sport at the 2014 Games, but qualification will not be straightforward as this year's British Championship gold and silver medal winners in Ingram's division both hail from Scotland.

"I'd like to do as well as possible in Paralympic and mainstream judo whilst I still can," said the 2011 European champion.

Ingram's bid is being backed by the British Paralympic Association [BPA].

Brothers Joe and Sam Ingram compete in London

"We encourage all disabled athletes to follow their dreams," said a BPAexternal-link spokesperson.

"London 2012 demonstrated to a wide audience that Paralympic athletes are just as talented and train just as hard as their non-disabled counterparts.

"The fact that athletes such as Sam can produce performances that are competitive against non-disabled athletes merely demonstrates the exceptional talent of our Paralympians."

Ingram has mixed feelings about the London Games because, despite returning from nearly two years out with a cruciate knee ligament injury to better the bronze he won at the Beijing Paralympics, he had hoped for more.

"I was a little bit unhappy with my result in the Games," said Ingram. "I told myself a few nights ago to move on from the result, but every night since I still think about it in bed," reflected the judoka, whose brother Joe also competed at the London Paralympics.

"I really want to win in London and now I have to wait until Rio to do that, but there's no doubt that I'll be heading towards gold in Rio 2016."

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