Asian Games keeps Hong Kong’s Grace Lau focused amid karate chaos
The world number five calls for calm in the lead-up to Indonesia after the Olympic Committee suspends her sport
Leading karate athlete Grace Lau Mo-sheung has called for damage control in her sport so she can focus on the Asian Games and, more importantly, when it debuts at the Olympic Games in 2020.
“I had never thought beyond the Asian Games in Indonesia but now the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has become the biggest dream, especially for a karateka,” said 27-year-old Lau, the world number five in the women’s kata, one of the two competition disciplines along with kumite.
“The Asian Games will take place in August which will be followed by the Olympic qualification campaign in September, but the situation in karate in Hong Kong has worried us a lot over the past couple of months.
“No one knows if the sport will continue to be in the Olympic Games after Tokyo, even if karate is very popular in France and across Europe.
“As a scholarship athlete at the Sports Institute, we can stay away from interference from outside and keep training but the recent saga in the sport has affected us. You don’t want to see people keep criticising your sport.”
The Hong Kong Karatedo Federation, the sport’s governing body, has been suspended by the Olympic Committee after accusations of maladministration and unfair selection of athletes. The federation said it would appeal against the ruling which was made last week.
In April, Lau defeated world number one Sandra Sanchez, of Spain, to clinch the Premier League title in Rabat, Morocco, while in the Dubai Premier League in February she beat two-time world champion Kiyou Shimizu, of Japan, to reach the final, only to be beaten by Sanchez.
Lau is the only karateka that has beaten Shimizu, who is likely to be her biggest obstacle for the Asian Games gold medal in Indonesia.
“I turned to full-time training in 2015 and now the results are starting to come,” Lau said. “With more overseas competitions, I have gained the required experience at the top level.
“Kata is a form of demonstration and not combat. While you have to work hard to sharpen your form and skills, it’s also important to leave a good impression with the judges.
Lau won a bronze medal at the 2012 World University Championships and considered herself a logical choice for the East Asian Games in Tianjin the following year and the Asian Games in 2014 but she was overlooked.
“It has been more than six years since I started my Asian Games campaign and I am so eager to make my debut in Indonesia,” Lau said. “ I hope the incidents in Hong Kong karate can stop so that the athletes can keep their focus on training and make Hong Kong proud in international competitions.”
The women’s kata in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics features only 10 athletes, eight qualifiers and two wild cards. The top four in the world rankings in May 2020 will receive the berths first with a qualifying tournament in Paris the following month deciding the remaining slots.
“It would be great if I can win a medal in Indonesia before kicking off my qualification campaign for the Tokyo Olympics. But we need a stable environment to keep us focused before setting off on the road to honour,” Lau said.