My name is Meral Olmez. I am originally from Istanbul, Turkey. However, I have been in Brooklyn, NY for 12 years now and consider it my home. I work as the Director of Education and Enrichment Programs in Turkish-American Eyup Sultan Cultural Center. I am also Founder and Chief Karate Instructor of the Turkish-American Eyup Sultan Karate Program.
In my childhood years I enjoyed playing basketball, tennis, and karate. The philosophy of karate inspired me to embrace it as more than a sport. In my early junior years I won a couple of Turkish National Championships, and I proudly represented the Turkish National Karate Team for about 15 years competing in international level competitions. I am a two-time World Karate Champion, four-time European Karate Champion, and have won the International Karate Championship several times in the team and individual categories. I also represented the USA National Karate Team in the 2009 World Championship where I won the bronze medal.
At the same time I worked as an exercise specialist developing innovative fitness and age-related exercise programs for children with autism spectrum and developmental disabilities. I have co-authored and published several books, blogs and articles on the subjects of karate, women’s health, exercise and sports sciences; in addition to leading seminars in same subjects.
After I was done with my professional karate career, dodgeball became my biggest interest; especially when I was teaching physical education and health classes. My students and I enjoyed playing tirelessly. I have been organizing annual dodgeball tournaments at my school during the academic years. Even now, I make my karate team play dodgeball for recreation, improving physical strength, and improving agility. The vigorous trunk rotations, throwing, catching and body shifting are all similar techniques needed for karate. I never thought I would love a sport as much as I love karate, and I could not have imagined that I would compete in a world class level competition again…let alone in dodgeball!
I appreciate everybody’s relentless support and work for this event. I genuinely give my biggest thanks to Ed and all of the members of USA dodgeball for believing in me and giving me a chance to represent Team USA on the world stage again in the Dodgeball World Cup. I believe the Team USA Women and Men will do wonders in Manchester!
I wish everyone a best luck in this amazing event!