Meet The Taekwando Champion Giving MS The Middle Finger

Meet The Taekwando Champion Giving MS The Middle Finger

by | May 27, 2019

Meet Janine Watson: Australia’s double threat for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, representing our country in Para Taekwondo and Wheelchair Tennis. All while battling Multiple Sclerosis

Janine’s training is squeezed in between full-time work as a head-of-department teacher and changes according to the severity of symptoms she is experiencing on any given day – from blurred vision to lethargy, weakness to restricted movement in her arms and legs. And the changes she is experiencing in her body have accelerated significantly in the past three years as the chronic disease converts her own immune system into attack mode, targeting the protective coating around various nerve endings.

It all leaves you wondering how on earth she has managed to claim three Para Taekwondo World Championships and become the number one ranked Wheelchair Tennis Champion in Australia.

My sneaking suspicion was there would be something profound I could learn from Janine about a growth mindset, living outside the comfort zone, perseverance and living your best life. She is without doubt, one of those rare humans capable of inspiring you in a way that lights a fire inside.

Don’t tell her though because “being an inspiration” is not something she’s all that comfy with.

“It is a word that I struggle with. But I hope that my story and journey will inspire people,” she says. “I want someone to look back at me one day, years from now and say ‘because of you, I never gave up’.  And it is for this reason that I will never give up now.”

At 6’2, Janine seems like the kind of person who would be destined for success in sport. At school she played netball and tennis at state and then national levels. While at university completing a double degree in Exercise Science and Secondary Education she tried everything possible including basketball, waterpolo and AFL.

Sport was clearly a massive part of Janine’s early life and no doubt only compounded the devastation of her diagnosis at 25.

“I was told that without treatment, I would be in a wheelchair within five years, a vegetable within ten and to go home and make myself comfortable and not to expect to live past the age of 40,” Janine says.

Now age 38 and planning to compete at the Paralympics at age 39, Janine sees her achievements so far as a massive “f*ck you” to Multiple Sclerosis.

“Competing at such a high level for me is not about the tournaments or the number of medals I win. It is my way of overcoming the battle I have with MS,” she says.

“Being diagnosed at the age of 25 with a progressive neurological disease for which there is no cure – is life changing. I know that every day I progress further and further and will have every function taken away from me with this terrible disease.

“I can’t control what happens to me, but I can control how I react to it and how I choose to not let it beat me.”

Amazingly, Janine didn’t even try Taekwondo until a short time after her diagnosis when a friend suggested she give it a go.

“I thought don’t be stupid, I wouldn’t be any good at that!” she says.

“But I went to my first training session. I remember throwing up in the garden half way through the session. I was exhausted. 

“But, I came back the next night – and since then, I have never looked back.  Taekwondo teaches you not to only challenge your body physically, but also challenge yourself mentally and spiritually.”   

Tokyo 2020 will be the first time Taekwondo has been included in the Paralympics program and with Janine pegged as a medal favourite already, excitement is peaking. 

She’s stared down the kind of life challenges many of us will never have the misfortune to confront and not only that, she’s pinned them to the ground in a choke hold. Janine admits her journey has absolutely been tough, and continues to be, but the fight has moulded her into a champion and taught her things she can now pass on to benefit others.

“Do not let your life be dictated by excuses,” says Janine. “I probably have the biggest excuse not to do what I do. But I choose to have a growth mindset and the courage to continue to push myself. 

“Great things never came from comfort zones. And if it doesn’t happen the first time, pick yourself up and try again.”

Janine’s potential for Olympic achievement was recently recognised with funding of $11,500 from the Australian Institute of Sport towards her training expenses. While greatly appreciated, she says it really only represents a tiny part of the funding needed to achieve her dream.

“Unfortunately the gap between men’s and women’s sports is large, but then the gap between able-bodied athletes and para athletes is enormous.”

Not that a tiny thing like cash is going to stand in Janine’s way given the hurdles she has already overcome to stand on a podium.

Beyond her Olympic dream, Janine says she has one over-arching goal.

“Do what I can, as well as I can, for as long as I can.”

Amen to that Janine.

  • Follow Janine’s journey to the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics via Instagram: j9_watson
  • Follow The Mortal Mouse Taekwondo Blogger via Instagram: themortalmouse or Facebook @themortalmouse

Discover what the Women’s Health initiative WinS is and how you can get involved here.

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It’s official: Shorts Season is officially here. While lockdown has seen many of us realise that activewear is less something to be worn for a workout and more a uniform we choose to do any and all daily activities in, when the warmer temperatures roll around, that favourite pair of sweatpants and leggings sometimes don’t cut it. Sure, they might be a staple in any wardrobe, but the Aussie sun doesn’t listen to reason, no matter how comfortable or cute it might be. And when it comes to summer, working out in leggings can feel like being trapped in a sauna, the sweat pooling at your ankles and around the waistband – as well as those other areas we won’t mention here. 

But as we transition from leggings to shorts, it becomes clear pretty quickly that not all shorts are created equal, and certainly not all shorts are fit for a workout. Take it from us at Women’s Health HQ, we’ve been there, tried it and lived to see the consequences. From the shorts that look cute but ride up to show your undies on the run, to those that feel like being strapped into a harness that’s digging into your hip bones. Then there are the fabrics that can cause chafing – a big no – and those that basically shine a spotlight on any area you might be sweating. 

Thankfully, a number of brands are here to cater to your exercise needs with innovative materials, fabrics and sustainable options to see you through a summer of movement. Regardless of your workout preferences or daily activity, we’ve selected the best shorts that will ensure you feel good in your body, shorts that get you excited to embrace the day and attack it with energy, that make you want to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, whether it be walking, running, or socialising in the park. Here are our pick of the best bike shorts below. 


Uptown Biker, $240

What says summer more than a pop of orange and the sleek shape of these Nagnata biker shorts? With its mid-length and horizontal raised rib side detail, these are shorts you can wear both for a workout and out to meet the girls. Made in Australia with a technical knit fabrication, the double-layer jacquard provides gentle sculpting qualities for the body, making it an excellent choice for light to moderate fitness activities like yoga, pilates or barre. 

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New Balance

Q Speed Fuel Short, $70

We love the colour of these shorts from New Balance which are cut with a sleek, speedy look that also helps to elongate the legs. Featuring NB DRY moisture wicking fabric, these are the shorts you want for high intensity exercise or long runs, keeping you comfortable and dry. There’s also an interior brief for added comfort and a stash pocket to keep your essentials. 

All Access

Ultra High Rise Zip Front Biker Short, $78

Yes, the colour is amazing but the fit is equally sensational on these All Access shorts. For those who love a high-rise fit and wide waistband that holds you in at the waist, look no further. The sleek, shiny look offers mid-compression and the fabric is moisture-wicking, so you can stay comfortable even during your sweatiest workouts. 


Nike x Naomi Osaka Utility Short, $90

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Session short Tights, $72

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Outdoor Voices

Relay 3” Short, $48

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Align High-Rise Short 6”, $69

If you’re familiar with the buttery-soft feel of Lululemon’s tights, you’ll want to get your hands on a pair of their shorts, too. Made with the same Nulu fabric that their tights are known for, these shorts feel weightless and super soft. They might be our go-to staple for any workout, but the feel is so second-skin that it’s hard to not wear them for every other activity, too. 

Spiritual Gangster

Seamless Biker Short, $112

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