B.MUNKHBAATAR: I promised myself that I will become a champion when I participate in the next ‘World Championships’

B.MUNKHBAATAR: I promised myself that I will become a champion when I participate in the next ‘World Championships’

  • By Dashmaa   -   Mar 15,2023
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Three athletes from Mongolia challenged their skills at the Ice Climbing World Youth Championships 2023 organized by the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA) in Oulu, Finland, on February 24 to 26. Among them, are B.Munkhbaatar, a student in the 11th grade of the complex first school in Ulaangom soum, Uvs Province, and a climber of the Mongolian National Climbing Federation (MNCF), who won second place in the speed category with a time of 12.25 seconds and won the bronze medal in the combination of technique, and speed. B.Munkhbaatar won bronze medals in the National Championship in sports climbing bouldering and speed ice climbing at Steppe Arena last January. In this issue, we are presenting an interview with B.Munkhbaatar.

-Before you went to Finland, you won a bronze medal at the joint National Championship which is organized by multiple sports associations. Your award must have inspired you to compete in the World Youth Championships.

-After the pandemic lockdown, athletes started training by building a sports and ice climbing wall in the area in cooperation with the management of Uvs Province and the Emergency Department of Uvs Province. We competed with the best from Ulaanbaatar and the local area in the National Championships held last January. For me, winning bronze medals in both sports, which I am interested in, inspired me to go to Finland. The school administration, teachers, and classmates welcomed me with great enthusiasm when I won a medal alone among the athletes of my province in the National Champions.

-Under the guidance of coach B.Purevsuren, you practiced ice climbing and found success in a short time.

-My coach practices mountain sports. Under his training, I have been practicing sport climbing for seven months and ice climbing for five months. Once he starts something, he has a habit of seeing the results. He constantly advises his students to study hard and succeed in training, works with their families, and listens to their ideas. Before the competition, he said, “Don’t be afraid that your opponent is great. They are like you. Anyone can succeed if they try.” My father is interested in wrestling. He participated in competitions organized in his province and region in freestyle wrestling, basketball, and volleyball and won numerous medals. I was proud to see my father’s medals, but I never counted them. When my father saw me take part in my first competitions in ice climbing, he said, “You’ve learned your technique. Now you need to increase your speed and improve your skills. A sportsman overcomes obstacles with determination and patience.” My family supports me with everything and support me to participate in local and foreign competitions.

-When you went abroad for the first time, how did you feel about the environment and conditions of the country that hosted the World Championship?

-The climate of Finland is similar to that of Mongolia. The air was clean, surrounded by forests everywhere, and the environment was quiet. I noticed that winter sports are highly developed there. It was a rare opportunity to see the world’s best athletes in person. I was afraid at first when I saw the European athletes who had practiced ice climbing for many years, and I thought that they would succeed. Only one country from Asia participating was Mongolia. After the race, we wanted to see the aurora borealis, but unfortunately, it didn’t happen. Before going abroad, when I approached the Department of Physical Education and Sports of my province and asked for financial support, they told, “You should succeed this time. We will support you in the next competition.” For me, I learned a lot to compete successfully with the hope of my family, coaches and teachers, and fellow sportsmen. As an athlete, I am very happy to have achieved my goal and come home with a medal.

-The success of athletes is measured in seconds. Were you close to becoming a champion?

-I was one second behind the winner and won the silver medal. Not far behind him, I was disappointed that I did not win the championship. I promised myself that I will become a champion when I participate in the next Championship, and I came with a big goal. The bronze medal was won by an athlete from Switzerland. When I stood on the podium wearing a medal and being called a Mongolian athlete, I couldn’t feel prouder of my country, parents, teachers, and the people of my province. I felt that the best moment when an athlete sheds tears of joy is when the name of his or her country is released.

-I heard that after winning the medal, you contacted your teacher and shared the good news first.

-Athletes participate in ice climbing competitions according to international rules and world standards. According to Mongolian standards, the competition ends if the athlete gets off the wall. Then the world standard gives one chance in case of separation from the wall. On the last climb, when the teacher saw me break away from the wall, he thought that even if I didn’t win a medal, I had seen the World Championships with my own eyes and gained experience. I did not expect to win a medal. M.Tsolmon, head of the Mongolian National Mountain Association, member of the Board of Directors of the Mongolian National Mountain Association, and S.Davaabayar, the head of the Sport Climbing Committee, who led us, told about my success to my coach, then he said, “Congratulations to my student, you have achieved a great success.” My parents were excited and worried about how I would participate in the competition. As my coach told them, many brothers, friends, and locals gathered at our place and shared my celebration. I am the eldest son of the family. I have two younger a brother and a sister. Currently, I am the only one who plays sports.

-When you arrived in Ulaanbaatar, your mother and coach greeted you with khadag and milk.

-I was very happy to see my teacher and mother among the people who welcomed me when I set foot in my country. When the teacher contacted me, he said, “I have a lot of work here. I may not be able to meet you.” Then he made a surprise visit to make me happy. When I went to Finland, I went intending to visit the country and experience the World Youth Championships. After five months of training, I had the feeling that I would not be able to compete with the best in terms of skills and experience. When competing with Europeans, I realized that I need to make my movements flexible, improve my climbing technique, and prepare my body and mind well.

-Ice climbers only participate in sports where they know they can succeed?

-Mongolian athletes compete in speed and technique categories. For the first time, I did a speed test in the technical category. After winning the silver medal, I was standing when the bronze medal was handed to me again. I was surprised about that and thought it is maybe a mistake. Then, in the combination of technique and speed, I won third place in the overall score.

-Did it symbolize that the bronze medal won by National Championships was followed by a prize relay?

-It is very symbolic because I have made a path to success. If I had practiced ice climbing and had not participated in the National Championships, I would not have achieved the following success. I think my medal gave me purpose and courage and showed the world that this sport is developing in Mongolia. For me, 2023 is an optimistic year full of luck, success, and high spirits. I have five medals from the National Championships, two of which are gold. Last year, I was selected as the best athlete when I won gold and silver medals. The school management and teachers understand me and take me out of classes when there is a competition. Before the competition, my local people blessed me with the words, “Come back a champion.”

-I heard that you follow the success of the best in Asia, Japan’s Tomoa Narasaki’s skills.

-Yes. He competed in sport climbing at the Tokyo Olympics and became the champion. In addition to being diligent, he is also a hard worker. He achieved success by consistently practicing his favorite sport. Narasaki is faster, tougher, and more patient than other athletes. Sport climbers and ice climbers succeed with endurance. When faced with an obstacle, some lose courage and lose their temper. Ice climbing is an endurance sport. I love my sport. I don’t feel like giving up. The harder it seems, the harder it is to try. Uvs Province has majestic peaks such as Kharkhiraa and Deglii Tsagaan. The more you look at the high mountains of your country, the more you feel refreshed and energized. My teacher is a mountain sports master. He has climbed many of the highest peaks in his country. Last year, he climbed the ‘Khuiten Peak’ of Altai Tavan Bogd Mountain Range.

-Do you ever think of training on a wall that meets international standards like foreign athletes?

- We don’t have a technical wall. Europeans come to the World Youth Championships with a big team in addition to their coach. However, three Mongolian athletes competed without a coach. I thought that if my teacher had been there and encouraged me, I would have become a champion. There, an athlete experienced the difficulty of participating in foreign competitions without a coach. M.Tsolmon and S.Davaabayar, who went with us, understood this and said, “We need to have our athletes participate with their coaches in the next competition.” People who saw me teaching and advising my female athletes during competitions asked, “Are you the coach, will you let her climb again?” At that time, I understood a little that the job of a teacher is not easy. Finland has a long time difference from our country. The psychologist of the MNCF advised me that contact with many people before the competition will harm the psyche, so I have not yet contacted my instructor.

-The structure of ice in each country is different. How difficult was the ice there to climb?

-The ice of the the competition held in Finland is soft and the road is bumpy. In the process of climbing, it crumbled, and gaps and chasms formed. Athletes compete with seconds. Some were seen wasting time by stepping on the gas in the gap. Mongolian ice has a solid structure. It requires a lot of effort. If you get your tools stuck in hard ice, it can be difficult to get them out later. Ice climbing clothing and gears are expensive. Before the competition, the teacher bought me new shoes. When I competed in the technical category, I was surprised that my shoes didn’t get stuck in the ice. At that time, the shoes of athletes from other countries were sharp as knives and well-suited for the ice. European athletes seemed very friendly. They looked at my shoes and said, “Poor quality shoes don’t fit on ice. You should choose such shoes later.” Athletes understand each other’s happiness and pain during the competition. I was very happy when the French athlete, who was my opponent, gave me his shoes and let me participate in the competition. The European Championship of adults in the technical category was held there. When Hong Kongese and Japanese climbers put on their shoes for our female athletes, J.Amina managed to climb 60 seconds in 58 seconds and qualified for the bronze medal. I would like to thank my parents, coach, and Ch.Mandakhbayar for advising me on how to succeed in the World Youth Championships. I would like to express my gratitude to the management, teachers, colleagues, classmates, and people of Uvs Province.

Dashmaa D