Grace Lau wins Hong Kong’s first ever World Karate Championships medal in Madrid
- Lau progresses to kata semi-finals before losing to eventual champion Sanchez
- Takes a step closer to the 2020 Olympic Games where karate is to make its debut
Karateka Grace Lau Mo-sheung took a step closer to her Olympic dream after snatching Hong Kong’s first ever World Karate Championships medal in Madrid on Saturday.
Inthird-place contest in the women’s kata, the 27-year-old, a scholarship athlete at the Hong Kong Sports Institute, defeated Maria Dimitrova of the Dominican Republic 4-1 ensuring her own biggest achievement and also Hong Kong’s.
At the WiZink Sport Centre in the Spanish capital, Lau, who also won a bronze medal for Hong Kong at the Asian Games this summer, made it all the way to the semi-finals, all in straight 5-0 wins, until she met Sandra Sanchez of the hosts.
The Spaniard claimed the match 5-0 and went on to win the world title after overcoming defending champion and world number one Kiyou Shimizu of Japan 3-2 in the final. Shimizu was also the 2018 Asian Games champion.
Lau said after the Asian Games that the 2020 Tokyo Games would be her biggest target as it’s always the biggest dream for any athlete to compete at the Olympics, especially karate is making its debut in Tokyo.’
Only ten best athletes will feature in each of the eight karate categories, including women’s kata. The top four athletes in the Olympic standings by April 2020 will qualify, along with three others from a qualifying tournament in 2020, two from the continental championships and one from the hosts.
Lau is currently fourth in the rankings and her medal in Madrid will give her significant Olympic ranking points as she also defeated Sarah Sayed of Egypt in the last eight. The Egyptian is one place ahead of Lau in the rankings.
The 2018 World Karate Championships is the last world event held before the Tokyo Games and provided the maximum number of points remaining for athletes to qualify for the Olympics.