Disability doesn’t deter judo champion

Melissa Prins has an intellecutal disability, but she has managed to win a major judo competition
Melissa Prins has an intellecutal disability, but she has managed to win a major judo competition

The Burns Beach resident recently brought home a gold medal and the trophy for the best fighter from the Special Needs Friendship Games in Adelaide, where she competed against opponents up to 20kg heavier than her.

Four months earlier, she won gold and silver at the National Judo Championships in Sydney.

Prins decided to take up judo two years ago and despite having a slight intellectual disability (apraxia with dyslexia) she discovered she had a natural talent for the sport.

She trains twice a week at the Kano Judo School in Joondalup, and increases to three to fours times a week when she prepares for competitions.

Her mum, Karen, said her positive attitude and strong work ethnic had enabled her to juggle an intensive training schedule, while also working three jobs and studying at Polytechnic West towards a Certificate I in Transition Education.

‘Melissa loves competing and is very competitive. Once she sets her mind to something she goes for it,’ Mrs Prins said.

‘She has a really positive outlook on life and works really hard.’

Melissa hopes to compete at the Olympics one day, but in the meantime she is applying her competitive sporting attitude and determination to everyday tasks so she can continue to succeed in all areas of her life.

Another huge achievement for Prins was when she passed her driver’s licence, despite battling illiteracy.

‘Melissa took driving lessons for a year, which she paid for by working three jobs at a time and doing double shifts as a dishwasher,’ Mrs Prins said.

‘Her theory test proved more challenging because of her illiteracy, but finally she passed by using pictures and answering questions.’

The next goal on Prins’ list is to secure permanent employment and earn enough money to one day support herself so she can buy her own house.

‘It’s by pure determination and having such a positive outlook in life that she is able to be so successful despite her disability,’ Mrs Prins said.