26 Feb 2024

Making Her Mark in the World – Elite Athlete Karina Lau

As part of our elite athlete series, we aim to shine a light on the hardworking and dedicated athletes who are part of both SABRES and the Hong Kong team! This month’s issue will be focused on Karina Lau, an up-and-coming athlete full of youth and spirit! Representing Hong Kong in the gymnastics junior division since she was 9 years of age, we delve into her experience as a national Hong Kong representative.

As Sha Tin College has an academically demanding curriculum, Karina balances her athletic obligations on top of her studies by completing all schoolwork on her off day; Wednesday and communicating with teachers and coaches to maximize optimal performance both on and off the spring floor! To be able to pursue gymnastics at the international level, Karina had to persevere, work hard and put copious amounts of dedication into her training, building from club competitions, local competitions and gradually international competitions once she joined the elite team at age 7. Her love for gymnastics and for her teammates are her main sources of motivation to compete at the highest level. Alongside the thought of the amazing opportunities granted to only a few, Karina gets to compete with some of the best athletes in the world and to quote, “represent Hong Kong while doing what I love”.

To mentally prepare for events filled with such talent and competition, Karina focuses on simple but effective exercises like visualisation, breathing exercises and positive self-talk to maintain her calm and positivity during stressful moments. Of course, a career is never complete without both ups and downs – some of Karina’s best moments must be her third place at the Singapore Open International. This was Karina’s first medal at an international competition, gaining acknowledgement and recognition on a global scale must be a daunting yet rewarding experience that we simply do not have the vocabulary to enunciate. Although, some challenges she had to face throughout her career was struggling with the stress of training, especially the anxiety of walking into the gymnasium for afternoon practice, however, Karina was able to have a short break throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and focus on herself and gradually remind herself of her love for gymnastics.

Karina’s short term goal is to improve the execution and performance of the skills she already has in her existing inventory and learn more techniques. Contrarily, her long term aspirations are to qualify for more international competitions like the Asian Championships, Pacific Rims or even the World Championships! To remain in tip-top condition, Karina continually incorporates skill development, strength and flexibility into her programmes to gain a balance and refrain from sustaining any injuries that may prohibit or limit her participation in competitions. Although many of us reading the article may not be familiar with gymnastics jargon, Karina’s favourite trick is a double-twist on the floor! A backflip in a straight body position with a double-twist bearing a C value – a skill that could only be honed with immense concentration and talent.

Gymnastics is a sport which is extremely dependent on one’s dedication, discipline and tenacity, as it requires not only strength, but flexibility, balance as well as strong mental fortitude. Because there are no precise limits to the techniques gymnasts can master in their lifetime, it leaves a strenuous effect both physically and mentally. We have immense respect for Karina for being able to endure the determination required to succeed in the sport, especially at such a young age. We wish her good luck on her future endeavours to take the Hong Kong team to even greater heights!

Written by Dorothy Yeung (Deputy Head of Media of the Sports Media Team)
Interviewed by Dorothy Yeung and Cyrus Tse (Apprentice Deputy Head of Media of the Sports Media Team)