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Jessa Khan: I am back to win gold for the Kingdom

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Cambodian Ju-Jitsu star Jessa Khan (right) speaks to reporters after arriving at Phnom Penh International Airport before her trip to compete in the SEA Games in Vietnam this month. CHHORN NORN

Jessa Khan: I am back to win gold for the Kingdom

Cambodian Ju-Jitsu star Jessa Khan said she had returned to the Kingdom with the full confidence that she would be competing for gold at the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in Vietnam this month. Her father Peter Khan – a professional Ji-Jitsu martial arts coach – and Cambodian Ju-Jitsu Federation president Seng Bunsong both expect that the Asian and SEA Games gold medalist will shine again.

Cambodian-American Khan expressed her pleasure at touching down at Phnom Penh International Airport from the US on May 5 with her father, grandmother and friends. The Cambodian heroine will continue her journey to the Vietnamese capital Hanoi, where she will compete in the 51.5kg category of the Ju-Jitsu event with her teammate Mab Sok Houy.

“I’m really excited to be back and I am thankful to everyone for the support. It’s been three years since I’ve been here and I can’t wait to see everyone and explore the culture again,” she said.

When asked whether she was well-prepared and ready to compete for gold for the Kingdom again, she said: “Yes, I am always ready. It’s been my third time competing for Cambodia and my second time at the SEA Games. I am super excited, especially as my dad is here to coach me.”

Before these games, Khan had already set historical records for the Kingdom. She won a gold medal at the Asian Games 2018 in Indonesia and went on to bring home another in the Philippines at the 2019 SEA Games.

On her way to her first SEA Games gold – in the 49kg class in 2019 – Khan defeated Vietnam’s Duong Thi Thanh Minh in the eighth round before going on to beat her Singaporean rival in the semi-finals. She defeated the hosts Philippines’s Napolis Jenma Kaila in the final.

Before returning for the SEA Games in Hanoi, the Cambodian Ju-Jitsu star also won a gold medal – her first major black belt title – at the 2022 IBJJF Pan Championships in Kissimmee, Florida in April. She admitted it was a competitive warm-up for her and she has very much improved since her previous SEA Games.

“I’m definitely better. Every year you try to improve and you always want the best for yourself. Now I am 20 and I am a totally different competitor than what I was. Now I am a black belt and I have gained a lot of experience so I am more prepared for this tournament than ever and I am super excited,” she said.

Her father is also confident that she will win a gold medal.

“We are very happy to be back to represent Cambodia at the games. It is also the third time that my daughter has become an athlete representing Cambodia. I believe Jessa will bring pride to Cambodia by winning a gold medal in Vietnam,” he said.

Seng Bunsong – who was recently appointed president of the Cambodian Jujitsu Federation and is also a master of many martial arts – has just returned from the US to live in Cambodia. He told The Post that Khan has strong abilities and he would not be surprised to see her return from Vietnam with another gold medal for the country.

“As the new president of the federation, I am happy that our best martial artist has come home to compete in the SEA Games. We will do our best to bring another gold back to the Kingdom. Based on my personal experience, and skills and research, on most of the martial arts in the world, Jessa is incredibly skilled and among the best in her weight class,” he said.

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