Confident Grace seizes chance for karate glory

Finance | Carine Chow 6 Aug 2021

Karate star Grace Lau Mo-sheung said it is important to believe in oneself and seize the chance when it comes, after taking home a bronze medal in the individual kata event.

Competing against Dilara Bozan of Turkey last night, the 29-year-old Lau earned a total of 26.94 with her routine - 0.42 points more than her Turkish rival.

She took home Hong Kong's first karate medal with absolute confidence, after the sport was included in the Olympics for the first time.

Lau was confident she would win a medal, even before she knew who her opponent would be. "I hope other athletes will also believe in themselves and stay prepared, as we won't know when opportunities will arise," she said.

A few years back, Lau did not expect karate would be included in the Olympics. Karate is a new addition to the Tokyo Games, but the event will not be included in Paris 2024. There are two types of events under karate, kata - meaning form - and kumite meaning sparring.

Ten karatekas including Lau competed in kata at the Nippon Budokan arena yesterday. They had to perform three-minute routines, demonstrating offensive and defensive techniques against a virtual opponent chosen from 102 forms that are recognized by the World Karate Federation.

A point-based system is used and a panel of seven judges gives two scores according to the athlete's athletic and technical performances on a scale from five to 10. Athletes are judged on execution of the routine, including speed, rhythm, balance and power of strikes and kicks. The full score is 30 points.

The karatekas were evenly split into two pools. Lau was in pool A and scored an average point of 26.15, after world number one Sandra Sanchez of Spain.

Lau then came second in the ranking round with 26.40 points, which put her into one of the two bronze medal matches. With fierce chants and moves, she won against Bozan with the three-minute routine Chatanyara Kushanku.

Sanchez took the gold while Japan's Kiyou Shimizu won silver. The second bronze medal was won by Viviana Bottaro of Italy, who edged out Sakura Kokumai of the United States.

In a post-match interview, Lau said she had faith in herself that she would win the medal as she was very confident in her techniques and ability to control her emotions. "I want to showcase what I have learned during my training in the United States and Japan," she said.

Having won bronze in the Women's Kata event at the WKF Senior World Championships in 2018, Lau aims to snatch another medal at November's World Championships.

Lau expressed gratitude to her family, thanking them for being supportive of her decision in becoming a full-time athlete.

She began learning karate because of her older brother. Starting training at the age of 11, she chose to compete in kata instead of kumite as she did not want her mother to worry about injuring her face.

Yesterday, Lau's mother said it was not her intention to have two karate athletes. "I initially wanted my daughter to learn karate to keep her healthy."

A bronze medal in the Olympics means Lau could receive HK$1.25 million from the Henderson Land Commendation Scheme for Elite Athletes.

In addition, being an alumni of Lam Tai Fai College in Sha Tin, Lau will get HK$625,000 from Lam Tai Fai's charitable foundation, which also funds her alma mater.



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