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Mo Sheung Grace Lau dazzles as Karate 1-Premier League begins in Dubai


Mo Sheung Grace Lau of Hong Kong produced the biggest surprise of the opening day of the Karate 1-Premier League Dubai as the 26-year-old karateka defeated world champion Kiyou Shimizu to qualify for the final of Female Kata. Mo Sheung Grace Lau and Grand Winners Serap Ozcelik and Sandra Sanchez were among the top karatekas taking the spotlight on the thrilling first day of action at Al Wasl Club sports hall. 

Dubai hosts the second stop of the season of Karate 1-Premier League. While front-runners struggled to reach the final rounds of the tournament, new names were inducted into Karate’s elite with surprising performances. 

Mo Sheung Grace Lau was the biggest heroine of the day at Al Wasl Club sports hall. The 26-year-old athlete defeated two-time world champion Kiyou Shimizu in the pool round by 3-2 in the main upset of the event thus far. The 2018 Karate 1-Premier League Paris bronze medallist prevailed in the pool and convincingly beat Carola Casale of Italy (5-0) to make it to her first Karate 1-Premier League final in nearly three years. 

“In the first bout today I was very nervous. As I made it through the rounds, I realized that I just had to do my best; I just had to give all that I got. I can’t believe that I am in the final“, said the winner of the 2015 Karate 1-Premier League Coburg. 

“It is my second time beating Shimizu. This is so exciting for me; it is an amazing feeling to have this result. “ added the 2015 Asian Championships runner-up. Mo Sheung Grace Lau was the first karateka to ever defeat world champion Kiyou Shimizu. Up to that moment, the Kata queen from Japan had never lost a bout in over six years of international career. The first upset by the Hong Kong Kata heroine happened at the Karate 1-Series A Salzburg last year, and she managed to repeat the story today in Dubai. 

Her rival in the final will be Sandra Sanchez of Spain. The Grand Winner has claimed two bronze medals in the two big events of the year, and got the right to fight for her 24th straight award in international competitions. 

The European champion edged Japan’s Hikaru Ono in semi-finals (3-2) to make it to her first final in Karate 1-Premier League events in nearly a year. The last time that the Grand Winner won gold at Karate's flagship event was last year in Dubai. Now the Spanish Karate Star hopes to take her third consecutive gold at the event in the Emirate city. 


Four months after her last gold medal, Grand Winner Serap Ozcelik returned to the podium of a major international event. The Turkish karateka made it to the final of Female Kumite -50kg after presenting an effective performance on the tatami in Dubai. The 2014 world champion dominated the pool with a total of 11-1 in three bouts, and then defeated Azerbaijan’s Nurana Aliyeva by 4-1 to reach the last day of competition. 

“I am very happy because in my last two tournaments I could not be in the final. But now I made it. I think that I am getting better. I am sure that I will improve even more next month and that I will be able to be even stronger,“ said the Turkish Grand Winner.

Ozcelik’s rival in the final will be Greece’s Erini-Christina Kavakopoulou. The 25-year-old karateka surprised and qualified to her first final in senior competitions. 


Italy Sara Cardin also put an end to a medal drought in international competition and qualified to the final of Female Kumite -55kg in one of the highlights of the day. The Karate Star who had not made it to the final day of competition since getting silver at the Karate 1-Series A in Salzburg last year presented a forceful performance of offensive Karate. The 2016 European champion defeated Yassmin Attia of Egypt by 4-1 to clash for her fourth gold in Karate 1-Premier League. 

On the other side of the tatami the Italian fan favourite will meet Jana Bitsch of Germany who defeated Brazil’s Valeria Kumizaki to make it to her first final in Karate 1-Premier League in nearly four years. 

Superstar Rafael Aghayev demonstrated in Dubai that he wants to come back from his defeat in the final of the Karate 1-Premier League Paris barely one month ago. The five-time world champion used his trade-mark style of aggressive kumite to make it to his second final in two tournaments this season. After finishing the pool of top with a tally of 6-1 in three bouts, the fan favourite from Azerbaijan edged Aliasghar Asiabari of Iran 3-2 in semi-finals to fight for the opportunity to take his second straight gold in Dubai. 

The multi-awarded karateka will face Hungary’s Gabor Harspataki who qualified for his first final in senior competitions. Turkey’s Eray Samdan against FYR of Macedonia’s Emil Pavlov in Male Kumite -60kg, and Marvin Garin of France against Burak Uygur of Turkey in Male Kumite -67kg complete the list of finalists in the categories at stake today. 

Action will continue on day 2 of the Karate 1-Premier League Dubai. The final day of action will be broadcast to a worldwide viewing audience on many TV Networks around the world and on KARATEWORLD.TV.

For a full list of TV Networks and countries CLICK HERE and select your country to see where you can watch the Karate 1-Premier League in Dubai.

CLICK HERE to go to KarateWorld.TV.

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