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Alister Ward about comeback and investment
5 Sep 2018 15:50
Alister Ward was French judoka until 2011, then Canadian until 2014, and back to French since, let’s look at the unusual journey of a U66kg.
Coming from a sport-studies program in Bordeaux and a medallist at the Cadet and Junior France Championships in 2011, at 20 years old, Alister Ward was given a chance to join the Canadian team during a staging camp before the Paris World Championships. The project made sense for the -66 kg, who trained with the UJ from the South Arcachon Bay in southwestern France. Born in Montreal, he lived there for the first few months of his life. He was in third grade when his parents divorced. His father, a guitarist, decided to cross the Atlantic Ocean again to move to Nashville, Tennessee, and live his dream of being a jazzman.
Competition. With both federations not vetoing, the first selections came almost immediately. In competition, Alister started his Canadian experience in October 2011 during the Boras European Cup, in Sweden, and ended in February 2014, after a prestigious win at the Paris Grand Slam against Kilian Le Blouch, who would eventually win the Olympic title for France in Rio, in 2016. During that period, still regularly training at the Institut de judo de
Paris, he had a chance to compete in a dozen international tournament, a chance he wouldn’t have had if he had stayed with France, his weight category being locked in with the trio Larose-Dragin-Korval. “I was welcomed in Team Canada, because they didn’t see me as an opponent, but as a ‘partner in progress’. I wasn’t taking anyone’s place, so I was only met with kindness and a healthy competition.” In summer 2013, when Nicolas Gill talks about the possibility for him to move to Montreal, Alister thought about it before declining the offer. “I was 22 at the time, and I felt that, at that point in my career, I had to focus on my studies. It was important for me to start working. Our relationship ended there in very good terms, because I was dealing with good and composed people who understood the stakes of high-level sports and everything around it.”
Moving. What Alister learned most during his adventure on Canadian grounds is that, after a dozen years of minimal communication with his father through social media, he was able to get closer to him, and not only geographically. “On July 5, 2012, I was 3rd during the Canadian Championships in Toronto. What I remember most about that day, and the 2 weeks after, is that I was able to spend time with my brothers and sisters who live there, and that my father came from Nashville to see us.” Now working as a fireman, and being a university and military national champion (he placed 5th during the Military World Games in 2016), Alister Ward could experience the joy of a first senior national podium, at 26, when he defeated the experienced Sofiane Milous, former European champion and 5th in London in a lower weight category, for a bronze medal. However, at peace with his decision, and now considering “every judo moment like time spent with friends”, this medal won with the Arts Martiaux d’Asnières team is not his best memory from that year. Five months earlier, in May 2017, Alister got married. The ceremony took place in Voisins-le-Bretonneux, in Yvelines. In the first row were his father and the rest of his family from across the Atlantic. “My experience with the Canadian team was short, but it was about much more than just judo,” he said.
This article is part of a large online blog of Anthony Diao for Judo Canada. Read all interviews here.
this article is part of a large online blog of Anthony Diao for Judo Canada. Read all interviews here.
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