Sh.Gan-Erdene: Athletes achieve success by practicing non-stop

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There are many outstanding athletes who are successfully showing the development of darts in Mongolia on the international stage.  One of them is an athlete of the Mongolian Darts Federation, MGL Darts Club Sh.Gan-Erdene.  He got into the sport after watching his brother Sh.Ganzorig play darts with great interest. Sh.Gan-Erdene won the “Sacramento USA” international competition held in the USA in 2017.  Two years later, when he went to South Korea, he won the “Korea Open 2019” and “Korea Target Open” tournaments. He made it to the final eight in the fourth, fifth and sixth tournaments of the Asian series, which were held in Mongolia last month. He also seized a gold medal at the “Beijing 2023” international open competition held earlier this month by winning from 446 athletes.

 You participated in competitions in South Korea and China. Your performance showed that Mongolian darts players have become strong competitors not only in the continent but also in the world, right? 

I participate in local and foreign competitions, so I have prepared well this year. Therefore, I went to South Korea with the goal of winning. I made it to the quarterfinals of the fourth, fifth, and sixth Asian Series there, defeating champions. In the first match, I competed against two Japanese athletes, and the next day I beat athletes from Japan, China, Hong Kong, and Mongolia. Among them, I defeated the Asian champion, nicknamed “King”, Singaporean athlete Paul Lim by 4:2. When I competed against him before, who is now 68 years old, I had not won against him. When I was losing to him before, I thought that the time would come for me to win. I am very happy that I have achieved my goals and fulfilled my wishes this time. After the series, I participated in the “Beijing Darts 2023” international open tournament. In the quarter-finals, I beat Hong Kong’s famous athlete Hugo Leung by 4:2, and the audience started to shout.  He is leading the Asian series. In the match for the championship, I defeated the young athlete of the host country by 6:4. I kept saying to myself, “I’m not going to lose.” I had an indescribable feeling when I beat a strong opponent and won the championship.

 The 14th, 15th and 16th darts tournaments, which are the last of the Asian series, will commence in a month.  How excited are you? 

 The series will be held in our country on May 27 and 28. I am training hard with the goal of winning the competition in my country. This month, the seventh, eighth and ninth of the series will be held in the Philippines, and the 10th, 11th and 12th in Hong Kong. When I train before a competition, I carefully observe the mental state of my competitors. I took part in quite a few foreign competitions, so I know which countries have the best athletes.  Therefore, I will compete fiercely with them this time as well. Before, when I saw the champions, I was afraid at first, but later I started to play with them as equals.

 There is something special about sports. I heard that once people get into darts, they never turn back. Is this also true for you? 

 The more you play darts, the more interested you feel and the more you want to win. When I was a child, my brother Sh.Ganzorig played darts with his friends. For those of us who used to hang out playing football in the streets, darts was a new and exotic thing back then. I was very surprised when I first heard about organizing a darts tournament with a bet of one million MNT in Mongolia. In addition to me, my brother and sister have been successful in this sport. In 1995, my brother won the first darts championship in Mongolia. Since 2009, we have competed for multiple titles in the monthly rankings, Federation Cup, National Championships and international open tournaments. Before going to the playing field, I shake hands with my brother and say, “Whoever will play well will win.” I have one gold and three silver medals from the National Championship. I won a gold medal for the first time in 2016 in Mongolia. At the 2020 Korea Open tournament, I won the doubles title with my sister Sh.Erdenetuya.  

Who coached you when you defeated the best of the continent and qualified for the final eight?

 I used to coach myself and participate in foreign competitions. I participated in the Asian series held in South Korea, as well as the “Beijing 2023” international open tournament, together with the two-time state champion B.Boldbaatar and his team. He performed the role of mentor, coach and psychologist very well during the competition.  Observing my psychology every time I beat my opponent, he said, “You can’t get too excited now, stay calm.  We need to focus on the next game.”  After listening to his advice, I realized the importance of coaches and psychologists in the success of athletes. He previously beat me in the 2021 and 2022 National Championship finals.

 There are many athletes who started their sports career from the “Uizen” Club.

Yes. Darts athletes first established the “Uizen” Club in Sansar area, Bayanzurkh District. There are many best athletes “born” from this club. The first champion was my brother Sh.Ganzorig. I also followed my brother and trained at the club and started my career as an athlete. At that time, I was a student of Bayanzurkh District’s Secondary School No. 92. I won the darts competition organized by the district, school, and club, and was selected as “Best Athlete of the Year” and “Best Student of the Year”.  

 It’s rare for families to succeed in darts together. Your children won a bronze medal in the team category of the Junior World Cup too, right?

 My daughter G.Anujin and son G.Anand practice darts as my successor.  Together with athletes Kh.Tergel and B.Khulan, they took part in the team event of the Junior and Youth World Cup of Darts held in Gibraltar in November last year and won a bronze medal. To be honest, I didn’t train or coach my kids.  Under the leadership of coach Kh.Odbileg, the youth athletes achieved historic success in competing with the national teams of 22 countries and opened a new page in Mongolian darts. Kh.Tergel is my sister’s son. 

I was very excited to see the performance of my son and daughter who participated in the competition. My body was in Mongolia, but my mind was already there. A lot of people watched the coach M.Erdene’s Facebook live.  In the last game, his phone went dead. At that time, I was waiting, wondering if they would win a medal. The broadcasting live resumed soon, and the audience started screaming. When I saw that our team beat the Irish national team and secured a medal, I was over the moon happy. In that tournament, our team defeated the strong teams of New Zealand, Scotland and Germany, who were previously world champions. Foreign coaches probably did not expect Mongolian athletes from Asia to succeed.  They were seen shaking their heads in surprise when our athletes won the medal.  Recently, at the international open tournament held in Beijing, B.Khulan played against the host country for the women’s singles championship and won a silver medal.

 Mongolian darts players have become strong competitors in the continent and beat the best players in the world.

 In the past, when we participated in foreign competitions, we could not even get out of the first group. Now we compete against each other for medals. It is most difficult to match with compatriots in major tournaments. At the international open tournament held in Beijing recently, I beat the champion B.Boldbaatar in the final by 4:2. I defeated M.Altantulkhuur by 4:2 in the quarterfinals. In the semi-finals of the World Cup, I beat the host country’s champion by 5:0 and won the championship. The match for the gold medal was not easy. I beat the young athlete from China by 6:4. 

The fact that Mongolian athletes beat the best of Asia this time attracted a lot of interest. For example, T.Purevloov surprised the Chinese champion in the quarterfinals. He won when he played against me for the championship in this year’s National Championships. Mongolians love the “birth” of a new champion. I was also very happy to increase the number of champions.

What do dart players treasure most?

We love our flechette. When we take part in a competition, we flaunt our arrows that lead to victory. My first flechette led me to win many tournaments.  The second arrow is from “Winmau” brand, produced for two-time world champion, Dutch athlete Michael Van Gerwen, and weighs 18 grams.  Professional darts players play with darts weighing 23 grams. The better and lighter the flechette, the better it leads its owner to success. Luck is rare in sports. I think that athletes achieve their goal by working tirelessly. 

 Do you find it difficult to play for medals and lose?

 It’s not a bad thing to face a strong opponent and lose. Losing leaves me with a bigger goal to win the next tournament. My mistakes are lessons and always remind me that I must win every time I think about it. I am calm before the competition. After throwing the arrow at the board, I say to myself, “My training is complete. Now I need to rest.” The busier a person is, the more work he or she accomplishes. When I went to South Korea, I did my work and training without interruption. My wife’s friends said, “You used to have one dart player, now you have three.” Achieving success in darts depends a lot on the spirit, effort and feeling of the athlete. I tell my children, “Have a goal and don’t give up on anything. A darts player cannot lie.”

Have you influenced your wife to love darts, as well?

We got married in 2008. My wife’s name is G.Zolzaya. She is an associate engineer. She became interested in darts when I participated in darts tournaments. During the competition, the fans suffer more than the athletes. My wife plays darts well.  She has two silver medals and one bronze medal from the National Championships. Our family participated in the doubles category of the darts tournament. My children grew up watching me train. My daughter and I took part in last year’s National Championship team competition and won the championship. In that competition, my daughter won the title of deputy master of sports and made her family happy. 

 I heard that the northern neighbors are afraid of Mongolian athletes.  It is said that you made Boris Koltsev quite nervous at the World Cup qualifying tournament in Moscow, Russia.

 Japan, the Philippines, and China have a large number of spectators and supporting organizations from Asia, so they have the right to organize major competitions in their own countries and directly participate in the World Cup. Russia gets the right to organize competitions in the Eurasian region and send its athletes to the World Cup. Mongolian athletes participated in the 2015 Eurasian competition in Moscow. I lost to champion Boris Koltsev in the quarterfinals. The following year, athlete Kh.Odkhuu reached the final, and I lost to him for the championship. After that tournament, Russia was afraid of losing first place to us, so they sent a letter to the Professional Darts Corporation and decided not to allow us participate in the Eurasian regional tournament. We now participate in continental and World Cup qualifiers held in East Asia.

Misheel Lkhasuren