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Yamina Lahyanssa Celebrates Pan Am Games Silver

November 04, 2023

SANTIAGO, Chile—Yamina Lahyanssa put a silver lining around a super Saturday at the Pan American Games for Canada’s karate team.

The 21-year-old scrapper put the nation on her back in the women’s -50kg weight class, fighting her way through the round robin and into the final bout in Santiago, Chile where she dropped a 5-2 finish to Venezuela’s Yorgelis Salazar Camacho.

“I’m very, very proud of myself. Of course, I wanted the gold medal, but I still qualified for my first final of my career at senior Pan Am Games so I’m just really proud,” said the aspiring teacher from Montreal, who is the second youngest member of the team. “I proved all of the hard work has paid off.”

Lahyanssa punched her ticket into the finals after a 0-0 draw in the semis with Argentina’s Yamila Benitez that was decided with a four-flag hantei by the judges in her favour.  She posted two wins and one loss in round robin play.

Be it sport or life, Lahyanssa is no stranger to being the youngest member on the team – a place she builds confidence from with many supporters and leaders paving the way for her. The pint-sized Canuck is the youngest in a family of five siblings who emigrated with their parents from Algeria to Montreal when she was three.

“I’m so grateful to everyone – all of my friends and family. It takes a village to get to where I am right now so everyone who has supported me has played a big role to get me here,” said Lahyanssa, who speaks three different languages.

Lahyanssa’s progression through the sport has been steady since she entered her first dojo at the age of seven. She went to her first National Championships in 2016, has been to three World Junior Championships and is the only athlete on the Canadian Karate Team to have competed internationally at a multi-sport Games. She represented Canada at the Junior Pan American Games in December 2021.

She hopes to use the platform granted to her as member of Team Canada to inspire other young girls to stay in sport.

“As a teenager, some girls feel it is too hard, too much pressure and there are lots of ups and downs,” said Lahyanssa prior to her arrival in Chile. “I want to leverage my time as a Team Canada athlete to get more women living healthier and more active lives through sport and play because I know, by watching and following my mother into karate, what a positive impact it has had through my own life.”

The final day of competition will take place on Sunday at the Pan American Games. Melissa Bratic and Ryan O’Neil will both hit the Tatamis at Estadio National.