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Coffee Barista Claudia Laos-Loo Serves Bronze

November 03, 2023

SANTIAGO, Chile—Claudia Laos-Loo is delighting Canadians with more than just mixing up their morning coffees of choice these days.

On Thursday, thousands of miles away from her hometown coffee shop in Surrey, B.C. where she regularly holds court whipping up lattes, mochas and frappuccino’s, Laos-Loo replaced her apron with a karate Gi and served the nation its first ever medal in the sport’s Kata discipline at the Pan Am Games, winning the bronze in a thriller.

“I wanted to keep the composure, but I just felt really good. No matter the outcome, I knew I was going to be super happy with the results. I’m so happy with the bronze medal and I was so happy my parents were here to watch,” said an emotional Laos-Loo, whose family immigrated to Canada from Peru in 2002. “I just can’t stop thinking about everyone who helped me get me to this point. I don’t do this alone. It is a whole team with me, so this medal is for everybody here.”

The Kata discipline is a detailed choreographed pattern of martial arts movements that is performed individually. Athletes compete head-to-head in a round robin format with the top athlete in each pool competing in the gold medal match. The next two ranked athletes in each pool square off in the bronze medal bouts.

The Canadian’s journey to the podium didn’t come easy in Santiago. After squeaking into the medal round with a one win, two loss record, Laos-Loo had to take on Chile’s Isidora Gallo and a packed stadium cheering on their hometown hero.

She did just that – winning by a score of 40.10 to 39.10.

“I blocked out the noise. It really didn’t matter to me. I just went there and focused on myself,” added Laos- Loo.  “I knew what I had to do to execute everything so the noise, peripheral vision – nothing mattered. I only thought about my breathing and controlling my techniques. I gave it my all in every bout today.”

Sakura Kokumai, of the United States, won the gold medal after edging out Colombia’s Valentina Zapata 41.10 – 39.40. Andrea Armada, of Venezuela, won the other bronze medal contest.

The road to the Pan Am Games podium was not an easy one for the soft-spoken Canadian. After graduating with honours from Kinesiology at Simon Fraser University two years ago, Laos-Loo made the decision to focus on karate and qualifying for Santiago 2023. The journey was filled with ups and downs, celebrating personal best performances and battling through a string of injuries.

“I realized I needed to quit my full-time job to accomplish this goal of mine. It wasn’t easy, but now I’m here. I achieved my goal, and I also achieved another goal of winning a medal,” said the self-described coffee lover who financially supplemented the journey by doing part-time shifts from 5-9 a.m. at the neighbourhood coffee shop.

“It’s the best way to start my day, having a coffee and getting everyone else’s days off to a good start too by getting them their coffees,” said Laos-Loo prior to the Games.

Lily-Rose Nolet Misses Qualifying for Kumite Medals

Lily-Rose Nolet, of Gatineau, Que., came up short in her quest to qualify for the medal round in the women’s +68kg Kumite competition at the Pan Am Games.

After dropping her first-round robin match 2-0 to the United States, Nolet beat Ecuador 8-3. Her day came to an end after dropping a 5-0 decision to Mexico.

Complete Results: https://results-santiago2023.org/#/schedule/daily/2023-11-03

The karate competitions at the Pan Am Games continue on Saturday.

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