Manson makes grade

Talented Jess Manson in action at an international event.
Talented Jess Manson in action at an international event.

Seven years on, the recent Prendiville Catholic College graduate has her sights on the world stage, after winning a string of State and national judo titles.

‘Dad originally encouraged me to do Aikido (a modern Japanese martial art) like him, but once I tried judo, I found out that sport was for me,’ Manson said.

Her first major success was at the 2012 National Judo Championships, where she claimed the winning title in the cadet class, despite recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

In January this year, Manson received a silver medal after coming second at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF), a national sporting event, modelled on the Olympics, which gives talented, young athletes the chance to experience an elite sporting occasion.

She has since featured among the top placegetters at a number of competitions, including wins at the ACT, Canberra and Brisbane International Judo Championships, and a third place at the Ocean Judo Union (OJU) championships in Cairns.

Although judo requires both strength and skills, Manson, who competes in the under 57kg class, said the sport also required a strong frame of mind.

‘I get very nervous, but I try to keep calm and focused,’ she said. ‘Judo’s not a team sport, so you haven’t got a team to back you up.

‘A focused mind plays a big part in the psychological battle between winning and losing.’

Manson was recently selected to compete in the Cadet World Championships in Miami this year, but had to pass up the opportunity so she could focus on her WACE school exams.

Next year she will move into the junior category, where she hopes to continue her winning steak, but she is still unsure of how far she wants to go with the sport.

‘I was thinking of the Rio Olympics, but it’s a very competitive sport ” you have to be the best of the best of them and I still want to pursue a career as well,’ she said.

Manson trains twice a week at Kano Judo Schools, which increases to three to five times during the competition season.