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At the first—and possibly the last—women’s kata match at the Olympics, Grace Lau Mo-sheung made her mark in karate history by winning a bronze medal for Hong Kong. With a total score of 26.94 against Turkish karateka Dilara Bozan’s 26.52, Lau impressed judges and millions of viewers around the globe with her superb athleticism and technique. Lau’s bronze is Hong Kong’s fifth medal in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the eighth medal overall.
At the Olympics, the kata, a solo form discipline, requires competitors to demonstrate a routine out of the 102 recognised ones, and the winner is announced after tallying their technical points and athletic points. For technical points, judges will consider the karateka’s stance, techniques, transitional movements, timing, correct breathing, focus, and conformance; for athletic points, judges evaluate competitors based on strength, speed, and balance.
29-year-old Grace Lau Mo-sheung is an alum of City University of Hong Kong’s School of Creative Media and Lam Tai Fai College. During her time at City University, she was the recipient of the Dr Herman Hu Outstanding Sports Talents Scholarship. After leading City University’s women’s karate team to win many a gold medal, Lau continued her journey to the peak of karate mastery by winning a bronze medal at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, followed by another bronze medal at the 2018 World Karate Championships in Madrid. Her achievements have cemented her as the top karateka in Hong Kong—and now, as one of the best in the world.
While many of us may not be familiar with the sport, Lau’s movements were so powerful that we were able to feel her strength and unwavering focus through our screens. After winning her bronze medal, Lau expressed her delight at the chance to show Hongkongers what karate was like. Lau noted that the chance to compete at the Olympics was a surprise to her, as it had never been included in the Olympics before. Hongkongers have taken her triumph as the living proof behind the age-old saying: Opportunities come to those who are prepared.
Although we may not be seeing another kata match at the Olympics any time soon, as it will not be part of the Paris 2024 Olympics, Lau’s competitions do not end here—this November, Lau is set to compete at the 2021 World Karate Championships, which will take place from 16 to 21 November in Dubai. Until then, we shall wait patiently for her return and continue rooting for her whenever we can.