‘It is our responsibility to make the world aware of Mongolians’ strength’

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   Second-year student and Deputy Captain of the Academy of Radiation Chemical and Biological Protection in Kostroma, Russia E.Budjav won a duel gold medal from the World Kettlebell Lifting Championship held in New Delhi, India and delighted sports fans. He competed with more than 240 athletes from 18 countries in the weight category of 68 kilograms and won both the snatch and the clean and jerk categories. Previously, he won a silver and bronze medal at the National Armed Forces Kettlebell Lifting Championship. He trained while studying in Russia and won two silver medals at the Asian Kettlebell Lifting Championship held last spring in Astana, Kazakhstan on top of a gold medal at the White Night International Competition in Petersburg, Russia.

On behalf of our readers, I want to congratulate you on becoming the world champion. Let’s start our interview with your performance in New Delhi, India.

New Delhi seemed like a big city with a lot of people and a hot climate. Before participating in the competition, I met L.Batsuuri at the airport in South Korea, which was the beginning of my journey to success. It is very interesting that we had the same destination. During the academic conference there, he helped me with accommodation, food and many other things. At first, I felt uncomfortable standing alone with the national flag when I saw that 20 athletes of each weight group from each country had arrived with their coaches to compete in the championship. When I represented my country and competed with the best of the continent and the world, L.Batsuuri supported me and worked as my coach and psychologist until the end of the competition.

How was it to become a champion?

When I lifted better than the Russian athlete who competed in the same weight, I felt the results of my hard work. It was not easy for me to beat the best athletes and become the champion. I was the new champion who defeated the world’s bests in the 68-kilogram weight class. They didn’t expect me to win. When athletes from India and Russia were exhausted and failed, only one athlete remained, showing endurance. That was a Mongolian athlete. Previously, I competed for the championship at the White Night International Competition with the athlete who won the silver medal. He was the strongest in my weight class. I set a goal for myself after watching a video of Ivan Markov’s match. His technique is very clean. In addition to his achievements and skills, I was impressed by his hard work that helped him develop beyond his natural physicality. Discipline, consistent effort and technical training are key to success. When the Mongolian national anthem was played, I felt my country, its sovereignty and land that my ancestors fought to obtain for future generations. At that time, I thought that as a Mongolian soldier, I should raise the name of our homeland across the world.

Army life is not easy. It requires endurance and toughness. Military personnel rarely stay on the sports field as athletes, right?

There are men in the army who could do better than me. This time, not many athletes participated in the competition due to financial problems. I had to put up my parents’ car as collateral to get a loan from a non-banking financial institution and leave for India. I think my courage and goal led me to succeed. I had no right to lose because the audience needed to see what kind of athletes Mongolia has. When many foreigners congratulated me, saying “Son of Chinggis Khan”, when I became the world champion, I was so proud of my ancestors. This time, I got to understand that athletes felt the responsibility of raising the name of the country as soon as they crossed the border. The moment when I received the gold trophy while hearing the name of my father and country was one of the best moments of my life. After defeating the world’s best, I said to myself, “I have accomplished a part of my goal and paved the way for success for our Mongolian athletes.”

Not every athlete has the opportunity to win two medals at the world championships. Can you tell us about that?

New Delhi in India seemed friendly to Mongolian athletes. Among freestyle wrestlers, Z.Oidov became the world champion there. I am religious. When I saw a painting of the Lord Buddha there, I whispered my wishes and prayed. For me, I went with a mandate to participate in one category of the World Championship. After winning the gold medal in the clean and jerk category, L.Batsuuri said, “You should take part in the snatch category”. So, I told him that I came to compete in only one category due to the cost and he gave me money for another mandate. I won by lifting 119 times in 10 minutes. I did not win the World Champion title by working hard alone. Many people helped me out.

Didn’t you start your sports career with powerlifting?

Yes, I injured my back while training and took a break. When I joined the National Defense University in 2017, I started training in kettlebell lifting and tug-of-war and qualified for the title of Master in Sports. In the 17th century, Peter King I of Russia encouraged his farmers to train with kettlebells in order to protect the country from nomadic raids, which later, developed into a national sport. Since it is the basis of kettlebell lifting sports, it is highly developed in European countries and they have many strong competitors. The secret of the success of Russian athletes is completely unknown. They combine the core exercises of their sport with kettlebell lifting to improve endurance, speed and strength. Europeans live longer because of this. The main reasons why people stand in line at the pharmacy are stress, poor diet and lack of exercise. If you take care of yourself and do sports, you can live a healthy life. Kettlebell lifting is inexpensive. You can learn it anywhere. You can bring a 16-kilogram weight and practice at your office. You don’t have to become a professional athlete but it’s important to develop your body.

I heard that you went to Russia with two silver medals from the Asian Kettlebell Lifting Championships held in Astana, Kazakhstan last May.

Those two silver medals made me realize that I have to correct my mistakes and try harder than before. Therefore, systematic training was essential for success. A day after arriving in Russia, I contacted State Honored Coach G.Uurtsolmon and Asian Champions N.Madigaim and G.Tsolmonkhuu and continued training according to their advice. When I participated in the kettlebell lifting competition at my school and won a bronze medal, many people asked, “Are you an athlete from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan?“ I replied, “I am a citizen of Mongolia. I used to do this sport.” I was very surprised when Alexander Mashenko, who watched the competition, told me, “You have speed, strength and endurance. Now, you need to pay attention to your technique and improve it.”

Since then, I began to train systematically to improve my technique. I met Valentin Egorov, secretary of sports of the International Union of Kettlebell Lifting, when I won a bronze medal at the Russian Kettlebell Lifting Championship. After the competition, he said, “The White Night International Competition will be held in Petersburg. You should participate there. We will support your participation in the competition.” I became the champion for the first time there and was so encouraged.

Who helped you become a world champion?

My mother’s name is Z.Chantsal and my father’s name is S.Enkhbaatar. I am the middle son of my family. My mother influenced me to succeed. When we were children, she taught her three sons to be self-employed and taught us the wisdom of life. None of us drink alcohol or smoke. As a child, I grew up herding, taking care of sheep and horses for my grandfather in Govi-Altai Province during summer holidays. We have a store called “Altain Gobi” that sells meat, milk and dairy products. Many people come from the city to our store to buy milk, yogurt and curd. Since we have been helping my mother in processing dairy products, we have learned a lot from the household culture and customs of our country. Milk churning, yogurt coating and curd making are the jobs we learned to do best. Whenever I go to competitions, I always take my mother’s curd. Indians have the same religion as us, but they are different in terms of development, food and culture. I couldn’t eat the spicy food there. During the competition days, I used to eat the curd that my mother gave me. Every time my Russian friends visited, they were interested in eating the curd my mother made and later, they ordered and asked for more.

It seems that your parents support you a lot.

My family supports and gives me energy and motivation to participate in competitions. My mother has a belligerent attitude and is stingy with her praise. But gaining her respect and trust is a great reward. My parents kiss me when I come home with a medal. I help them out whenever I can. My brother’s name is E.Dashbat. He graduated from the Mongolian University of Life Sciences with a red diploma (honors). My younger brother E.Sumiyabazar is an athlete and a first-year student at the University of Internal Affairs. He practices national wrestling, judo and sambo. He won silver and bronze medals at the National Youth Judo Championship. As for me, I am in my seventh year of military school. We were raised to value modesty by our parents. As a brother and an athlete, I advise my younger brother on how to practice sports properly and achieve success.

How many friends did you make after participating in the World Championships?

When I won, an Indian athlete was the first to congratulate and cheer me on. We now keep in touch with each other, give advice to one another and talk about our training. He is open-minded. Every day, I send videos of my training, ask about my mistakes and share my thoughts. After participating in the World Championships, I expanded my circle of friends and made good friends who understand me. We are talking about promoting this sport in each other’s countries and organizing joint training in the future.

Will you work in Mongolia after graduation?

My goal is to work in Mongolia. I took a break from school for a while for my competition. Now, I will pay attention to my studies. Among the types of wrestling, I am interested in sambo and becoming my younger brother’s trainer. As an athlete, I learned a lot from coaches N.Chinzorig and A.Amarsuren. They were the first to teach me what an athlete should be like and how to properly start a sports career by teaching me perseverance. I am happy that I have successfully returned the favors of the people who supported and helped me with kindness. When I set foot in my country, I understood our responsibility to make the world aware of the strength of Mongolians.

Enkhnaranjav Tumurbaatar