News / Sport

From Brunswick to Birmingham, Mandy takes on world’s best

Karate champion has made big sacrifices to get to the top

Mandy Yap in action for Australia at a recent tournament. Photo: supplied

Brunswick Voice
Wednesday, September 7, 2022

FROM humble beginnings in Brunswick, Puimun ‘Mandy’ Yap will this week take on some of the world’s best at the Commonwealth Karate Championships in Birmingham.

The 37-year-old will compete in the Senior Kumite category for women weighing under 68kg at the championships which begin on Wednesday.

The shot at a Commonwealth medal is the culmination of years of dedication by Yap, who has trained at Goju-Ryu Australia in Brunswick for 12 years under the supervision of her coach, Morgan Abouzeid. She started karate when she was eight.

Yap, who works as a personal support worker, had to quit her full-time job in the corporate world in order to chase her dream.

“I moved out of home seven years ago to live in the gym, just so that I can save time commuting between home, work and the gym,” said Yap, who is currently ranked 33rd by the World Karate Federation.

When the pandemic hit, Yap decided to take up post-graduate study in psychology at Monash University, hoping this would give her more career opportunities in the future.

“Working full time, training, competing and studying full time is a delicate balancing act,” she said.

“Without the support of my coach, employer and the support from the local club, I would not have achieved what I had thus far. I owe it to them, the community.”

In order to be the best, Yap must train with the best in the world. This had led her to multiple training trips to Europe and Kazakhstan Olympic Centre in the last few years.

This year started off with Yap retaining the state championship title in February in her weight division. This was then followed by another success in Australian Open Karate Championship held in Sydney in April, where she was crowned gold in her weight division as well as gold in the female open weight division.

“Without the support of my coach, employer and the support from the local club, I would not have achieved what I had thus far. I owe it to them, the community.”

The individual kumite female open weight division, comprising of some of the best fighters from different weight categories, was the battle of the crème de la crème. Yap advanced through the rounds winning 8-0, 9-0, 9-3 and 5-4 in the finals.

The success in Sydney solidified Yap’s position as one of the best fighters in Australia which led to her being selected to represent her country at the Oceania Championships in New Caledonia.

She got off to a shaky start but was able to redeem herself which eventually led to a gold medal in her weight division. Recognised as one of the best fighters in the Australian national team, she was also selected to compete in the individual kumite female open weight division.

Battling some of the best fighters from Australia, New Zealand, Nauru, Fiji and New Caledonia, Yap advanced through the round winning 7-0, 9-0, 5-0, and 2-2 winning by advantage in the final round; officially crowned the champion in the Oceania region.

Yap’s success continued at the National Championship in Rockhampton representing Victoria. She came in first in her weight division followed by a second place in the open weight division. Nonetheless, her success thus far has guaranteed her position in the national team to compete in the Commonwealth Championship in Brimingham, UK, where the Commonwealth Games were held last month.

Yap started karate when she was eight. She made special mention of her coach of the last 12 years, Morgan Abouzeid.

“Sensei Morgan has always been there, never giving up on me,” she said.

“He took me to new heights that I never thought possible. He broadened my horizon and continuously challenged me to set new goals such representing Australia in the World Championship in Dubai last year where only the best fighter for the division was selected to represent the country.

“Sensei Morgan always encourages me to be the best that I can be, to always give back to the community and to pass on my knowledge and experiences to the next generation.”

Update: At the Commonwealth Championships, Mandy Yap placed fifth in her weight division and Australia came first in the female team event, beating Cyprus, Botswana, New Zealand and Canada in the final. Yap scored 8-0 in her fight against her Canadian opponent in the final.