Barden Ridge's Yolanda Schmidt cleared to take on the best in the world in Muay Thai

YOLANDA Schmidt, 25, was born in Johannesburg and came to Australia a little more than five years ago.

The school teacher, who now lives at Barden Ridge with her aunt, is a top-class Muay Thai competitor.

She won the national title in the women's 55kg-57kg class on the Gold Coast in October.

That victory qualified Schmidt to compete at the World Cup in Bangkok, starting on August 13.

"I had to get special permission from the Australian Sports Commission to represent Australia," Schmidt said.

"Because I had not represented South Africa at a national level in any sport, it was OK.

"Australia is like a second home to me, even though my roots are in South Africa.

"I come from a family of 12 and it's a real sporting family. "Growing up I was a sprinter in athletics, I did Irish dancing and went to the world titles in Glasgow in 2007. I also played netball."

Schmidt started out doing boxercise classes to keep in shape and was spotted as an athlete of some potential.

In muay Thai she is schooled by Andrew Parnham and Singpayak.

"I always have high expectations of myself because I put in the hard work and am going to the worlds with the goal of bringing home the gold," Schmidt said.

The energetic athlete who trains five times a week at PTJ Muaythai said she enters the world titles with a focus to do well.

"My gym qualified too and we will be on the journey together to take on the World Cup in Bangkok. Team support is something our gym is known for.

"We are still seeking sponsors or donations to help fund our way."

Schmidt said over the two-week period it is a round robin competition.

"I might end up fighting six times and the girls could be from anywhere in the world," Schmidt said.

"Muay Thai competition is tough as a result of the many limbs/weapons available to use. There is so much to think about, with you and your opponent making use of kicks, knees, punches and elbows.

"At my weight class the girls are quite experienced and strong.

"We all go into the ring with the aim of taking the win.

"The training regimes have been ramped up and these girls mean business.

"Muay Thai is not only a physical game, it's a mental one too. It also involves a lot of roller-coaster rides with nutrition and weight loss for fights. You don't walk around at your fight weight."

■Yolanda Schmidt in Muay Thai action: