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Title [Martial Arts Globe] Meet Azra Dedić - The first person with Down syndrome to become a judo master in BiH
Photo by Fikret Fićo Bečić
Meet Azra Dedić - The first person with Down syndrome to become a judo master in BiH
- Špela Lampe -
The twenty-eight-year-old judoka from Bihać, Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a true lover of judo. In fact, she is the only person with disabilities to ever become a master of any martial art in her country.
”Judo is my first and greatest love and my judo club is my second family. In my life, I achieved my greatest successes with judo and made the best friends,
achieved many goals, simply judo is an integral and inseparable part of my life.”
She was born during the Balkan war in 1994, when the conditions for giving birth were the most difficult, especially for children with Down syndrome. She started the "gentle path" (Japanese 柔道) 15 years ago. Her parents wanted her to play sports mainly for socializing because in her everyday life, she didn't have many children to play with and she missed it a lot. Another reason was the development of her gross and fine motor skills that were due to Down syndrome delayed. ”Above all, we wanted to ensure that Azra was an equal member of the community and test whether judo could be an area where she could succeed,” says her mother Ramzija Dedić, who remembers that she and her husband were most surprised by their daughter, when, after a few initial months of judo training, she had to take the yellow (5th Kyu) belt exam. ”After successfully passing the exam, I checked with the coach if Azra was really ready, or if maybe they gave her a chance just so she wouldn't feel left out. I will remember the coach's answer for the rest of my life! He said that the question was completely unnecessary, that Azra was fully prepared and that the club would never expose Azra to any inconvenience. We were very surprised and very happy. Although after that Azra achieved many sports successes, all belts up to black (1st DAN), numerous medals, this event is in my special memory, because then Azra showed us exactly what she wanted and that can succeed with the right support.”
International ID judo champion
Azra is a multiple ID judo (special needs competition) champion. Among her many achievements, the biggest one was in 2019, when she became the European champion and the two years before she won bronze at the World Championships. All the medals she won at tournaments in Bosnia and Herzegovina and elsewhere in Europe have a special place in her heart. She displays them in her room. As a member of the Judo club Una from Bihać, Azra trains according to the regular judo program (inclusive teaching) and was an equal member of the club from day one. Her determination to achieve her goals is best known by her coach Fikret Fićo Bečić, 7th DAN judo master, who says about her:
”Azra Dedić is a unique example of persistence, perseverance, diligence and desire to succeed. Every competition and medal won gave her a new incentive to continue. She put our Judo club Una on the ID judo map of the world. Her results will remain recorded in the history of BiH sports. But most importantly, she set an example and gave hope to all parents who have children with intellectual disabilities, that this should not be an obstacle for them to become valuable members of the community, which is also the ultimate goal of the judo.”
The first person with Down syndrome with permanent employment in BiH
After successfully completing elementary school and
graduating from Secondary Art School, Azra got a job in a cosmetics store in
her hometown. She works eight hours every day and practices judo three times a
week after work. She is a wonderful example that people with Down syndrome can,
with the right support, live rich, fulfilling lives and feel part of their
With Us Not For Us
This is the theme of the 2023 World Down Syndrome Day, a global awareness day recognized since 2012 by the UN, which takes place on 21 March every year.