Roy Meyer was born 4 June 1991 in the Netherlands and came 7th at 2016 Rio Olympic Games and two-time Bronze Medallist at the Senior World Championships.
SS: Give us a little background on you. How come you started and stopped Judo as a child, then started again at age 17? What made you come back to the sport and what made you stop the sport in the first place?
RM: I grew up in a troubled home. And was forced, at the age of 10, to live in boarding schools. From age 7 till my 10 I did Judo and as a genetically gifted strong boy I became good at it really fast. When things escalated at home and in my environment I moved and there was no budget there to let me continue Judo. 7 years of living elsewhere was tough and lonely but at a certain level it also primed me to grow stronger for bigger challenges waiting ahead.
At the age of 17 I realized that living as a victim or having the feeling of not belonging wasn’t for me. I decided to create something of my own. I always had a roof above my head but never really had a home.
Judo formed some of my better memories and gave me a road to success as it was a talent then and I found out that it was still a talent. Right after I left boarding school I picked it up fully committed and driven for success. 1,5 year later I became Continental Junior champion and 3rd at the World Juniors. It was fully decided.. at that point.. This would be my road to success.
SS: What’s your best and what’s your worst memory in Judo?
My best: My first European medal.
My worst: 2011- I got a back injury for almost one year. Nobody knew where it originated and how to improve it. I thought it would be an early ending to such a beautiful beginning.
What does your training program look like on a day-to-day basis? Give us an insight.
9 hours of sleep, followed by eating two times, and doing a full body strength training session. Eat two times again and go to bed.
The next day is the same, but then I’ll do Judo randori.
Some days I double up with conditioning and technical sessions. Conditioning days are mostly on the bicycle or swimming. Running isn’t my thing.
SS: You know Wim Hof and do his method on a regular basis. Has this helped you in Judo?
Definitely. The breath is an always present tool that you can use in many different ways. I mainly use his breathing methods and the cold to create focus on all things that matter to me on a daily basis. It influences the degree of consciousness throughout the day.
The cold is also a focus tool.
SS: How do you prepare yourself mentally and physically for a competition?
Visualizing the desired outcome and being focused on all small things throughout the day. If the desire to become better is present the way will present itself.
SS: How do you calm your nerves down before a fight?
Wim Hof breathing
SS: You came 7th at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Tell us more about that day.
My Judo, place in life and experience just wasn’t ready to medal that day. The biggest win I took out of it was the fulfilment of a life goal. A goal set on my 17th after I became Junior European Champ. That I would make that Olympics.
SS: It was between you and Henk Grol for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics- how do you feel about not competing at the games, as both of you are world-class athletes?
I was more than ready to fight for the medals these Olympics but didn’t get picked by the national selection. He had the most recent results that they favoured over my earlier results. But as I do with everything in my life, I take whatever comes my way and turn it into something better. That’s what I did and experienced a very worthwhile time at home during the Olympics fulfilling a very important role in the national media and for the youth in my country.
SS: Will you be competing in the next Olympic Cycle for Paris 2024?
SS: What sacrifices did you have to make to get to where you are as an athlete?
Actually none. I chose this life and everything that came with it. I cannot fantasize about “what if” as those aren’t and weren’t meant to be.
SS: As a husband and father of two boys, how do you manage to balance family-life with the training and competitive life?
That’s always hard to do. Every period is different and maintaining a balance throughout the year is a big challenge. So being adaptive and flexible is a definite skill needed. I invest in that way of thinking and approaching family life.
SS: Are your boys active in Judo? Do you coach them or plan on coaching them later on?
My oldest son had his first lessons. But we are still looking for an appropriate club nearby. At this moment he isn’t doing sports except being active for 2 athletes in one. I have 0 plans about being active in my son’s life should he decide to choose for a career in sports. But I would definitely be willing to.
SS: Any advice to athletes that started Judo at a later age in life?
Try to feel Judo.. And try to do only the necessary things in your day to build up enough energy and focus for your sessions. Focus is key.
SS: What are you planning to do after you retire from Judo one day?
I’ve got 5 different plans and 10 different ambitions. Which I choose first I haven’t decided yet. But most likely it will have something to do with presenting/hosting on national television. Programs focused on youth, sports and development.
Anastasia-Alexandra Nenova interview with Roy Meyer for Sports Star.
Athlete Roy Meyer, +100 kg heavy-weight Judoka representing the Netherlands.
Interviewed by Anastasia-Alexandra Nenova