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Cambodian Jiu Jitsu star gold medals at 2022 Pans

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Cambodian-American Jessa Khan (right) tries to grapple her opponent during their fight at 2022 IBJJF Pan Championships which ran from April 5-10. SUPPLIED

Cambodian Jiu Jitsu star gold medals at 2022 Pans

Cambodian star Jessa Khan showed off her momentum and remained strong to record another major victory on US soil. The Cambodian Jiu Jitsu martial artist won a gold medal – her first major black belt title – at the 2022 IBJJF Pan Championships.

The Cambodian-American martial arts prodigy has won gold medals in nearly all categories including international competitions, but this was the first time Khan took gold at the Pans, having lost a bout in 2021.

Speaking after the gold medal match, Khan said: “I’m really happy. It was my 1st major gold. Last year was really hard for me ... I was winning gold throughout the coloured belts, but when I got to black it was a very different challenge. Ever since this year started, I have been reflecting on what I can do better to win. Last year was really hard, and I just kept training and telling myself that my time was gonna come... it takes time and experience, and here I am. I finally got my first major title.”

Peter Khan, her father, said that the Pan Championships – held by the Jiu Jitsu Federation in Florida – are one of the biggest Jiu Jitsu Championships in the US. More than 4,600 martial artists participated in the event.

At the event, which ran from April 6-10, Khan competed in the 53.5kg category. The Cambodian star defeated Brazilian Thamires Aquino in the final to take gold. The bronze medals in the category went to Brazil’s Andreza Morais and American Sofia Amarante.

After his daughter won the gold medal, Peter Khan, who was born in Phnom Penh, told the media: “We are more than proud that Jessa won her first Pan Championship, showing that all of her hard work has paid off.”

It was not just her father who celebrated the win. Cambodian fans also joined in, recognising that she has brought honour to the Kingdom. She first achieved fame by taking gold for Cambodia in the 49kg class at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, and followed it up with another at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in the Philippines.

Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports secretary of state Sar Sokha also presented congratulations to Khan, via social media.

“As a Cambodian citizen, I am celebrating this win. I offer my congratulations to Cambodian National Jiu Jitsu martial artist Jessa Khan, who has won gold at the 2022 IBJJF Pan Championships. This is the first time that a Cambodian athlete has won a gold medal at these championships. This is also an additional gold medal for Jessa before she represents Cambodia on the world stage again at the SEA Games – or any other global sporting event in the future,” he wrote.

According to her father, after winning the medal, he and his wife will fly with Jessa to Cambodia on May 5. There, she will join the national team and prepare for the 31st SEA Games in Vietnam.

With the SEA Games in mind, he added,”I think my daughter will perform well. I hope that Jessa will bring more medals home for Cambodia.”

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