A golden summer for Ian Ryder has him ready to move on to the next chapter of his promising judo career even before his high school graduation.
Ranked No. 4 in the world at the U18 level in his 90-kilogram weight class, the Steveston Judo Club member is heading to Montreal in January to work out on a full-time basis at Judo Canada’s National Training Centre. The move comes after Ryder won gold in the U18 and U21 Divisions at the Canada Cup back in July then added a gold (U18) and bronze (U21) at the Pan American Games in Argentina.
The Grade 12 student at McMath Secondary was originally planning to head east next summer once his school year was completed. However, he has accelerated his studies through the Vancouver School Board’s online correspondence and is on schedule for an early departure. Now, Ryder isn’t far from joining his former provincial teammate Mitchell Wolfe who already left for Montreal.
“It started off with him saying I should come early with him. I didn’t think it would actually be a reality until I started looking at my courses to seriously see if it can be done,” explained Ryder. “I actually have enough credits to graduate now but I’m still taking the courses I want to get into university. Everything has worked out nicely.”
The 17-year-old will share an apartment with Wolfe and another national team member. It will then be training six days a week, up to two or three times daily. It’s exactly the environment he needs as he moves full-time into the U21 level and potentially represent Canada at next year’s World Junior Championships. The plan is to also study part-time at Concordia University, starting in September 2019.
“My Judo B.C. coach talked to the friends he knows at the national training center and they are quite happy I am coming early. It’s going to be a better training environment and hopefully I can improve quite a bit,” continued Ryder. “I am going to get a lot of different training partners where there is just not that many my size here.”
Ryder is pleased to have closed out the U18 level of his career on a high note and is looking forward to the challenge of competing full-time at U21 where he has already gained plenty of experience over the past couple of years.
His U18 win in Argentina saw him defeat strong opponents from Cuba and Brazil. He then rebounded from an opening round loss with victories over competitors from Argentina and the U.S. to earn bronze at U21.
“I was training pretty hard leading up to Montreal and Argentina so it was nice to see those results,” he said. “You have to kind of start training hard leading up to it but not peak too early where you can come down a bit by the competition.
“That comes from a lot of experience once you have been to enough tournaments that you figure out what is best for you. Also, when you have a coach who has been working with you for a while, it really helps because they start to understand what works best for you to maximize your performance.”
Ryder will continue to train with Team B.C. throughout the fall and also his regular club sessions at the Steveston Martial Arts Centre where he has spent a big part of his life.
“It’s kind of sad leaving everything but I know it going to be a good beginning in Montreal with high intensity training and being with my friends again. But it’s also important to know where you came from.”