Prue Watt established herself as one of Australia’s most successful Paralympians at the Athens 2004 Games, bringing home five silver medals and one bronze medal. Her widespread success saw her awarded the 2004 Female Junior Paralympian of the Year for her achievements.
Four years later at Beijing 2008, while she did not win any medals, Prue put in a consistent performance and made the final for each of her events. In the highlight of her Games experience, she finished fourth in the 100m butterfly, fifth in the 50m freestyle and 200m individual medley, sixth in the 100m and 400m freestyle and eighth in the 100m backstroke.
Prue continued to put in the hard yards in the pool, hoping to make the team for the London Games. She made her third Paralympic team and in London won another bronze medal to add to her collection in the 50m freestyle. Still chasing the gold that eluded her throughout her career, Prue put her head down in the 100m breaststroke and came up a gold medallist, winning the final gold for Australia in the pool in London.
Although she learnt to swim at a very young age as most Australians do, Prue didn’t start competing in the sport until the age of 13, when she developed an interest through surf life saving. By the age of 14, she was competing at state and national levels, while also balancing her budding career in winter sports. Two years later, she made her Australian debut at the 2002 IPC Swimming World Championships in Argentina where she won two bronze medals.
Prue was born premature at 24 weeks and the high levels of oxygen in her system resulted in damaged retinas that seriously limit her vision. As a result, she can see approximately 2 metres ahead of her and has a limited amount of peripheral vision. Her vision impairment has presented her with many challenges, however she has learnt to adapt. She is currently studying a health science degree at the University of New South Wales, and is chair of the student council there, where she focuses on students with disabilities.
Prue believes she was given her disability for a reason and it has made her more determined to succeed at everything she does. While she is aiming for her fourth Paralympic Games at Rio, she says she is unsure of how long she will continue swimming post-Games but is looking forward to using her role to motivate children with a disability to get involved in sport.