Kiwi karate champion

When you are born with a heart condition contact sports are usually off limits. But one Hastings Karate exponent chose to ignore that advice and has just taken out two titles in the Australian National Karate Championships.

21 year old Mark Phillips has won both the Men’s Under 80kg title along with the Open Elite title.

Mark was born with a hole in the heart and defective pulmonary valve. He had his first open heart surgery at aged three and a half and has since had numerous keyhole surgeries. But he has never let his heart condition get in the way of life.

“I’ve wanted to show other kids born with heart defects that you can still live a normal life and achieve.”

Karate is probably one of the most physical of contact sports there is and Mark has certainly had his share of broken bones, but luckily he has only had one issue relating to his heart. “I ended up having cardiac arrhythmia and fainting during a session on the mat. But I’ve since learnt that it was probably because I didn’t warm up properly, and it hasn’t happened again. I’ve learnt my lesson,” laughs Mark.

Mark spends about 20 hours a week training, fitting it in between his work at a local electrical engineering firm. And he trains with his Hastings Club three times a week.

He has been part of the Heart Kids charity since his teens, helping out at the annual Heart Kids  camps and sitting on the Heart Kids NZ board. He says it is great to be part of a supportive and engaging community and making a difference. “I love being able to reassure heart kids and their families that even though you may have this disability it shouldn’t hold you back, you can do anything.”

Created on: 24 October 2017