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B. ZOLJARGAL: I demonstrate what I have learned from Taekwondo exclusively within the arena

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  • 2024-05-05
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B. ZOLJARGAL: I demonstrate what I have learned from Taekwondo exclusively within the arena

B.Zoljargal, a freshman at the “Mon-Altius” Institute of Physical Education and a skilled athlete, demonstrates her prowess in two different sports. Having trained in taekwondo since childhood, she boasts multiple medals from both local and international tournaments, proudly holding a black belt with a II dan rank. At the recent sixth Mongolian Student Sports Games, she clinched a silver medal in taekwondo. Despite being relatively new to sports gymnastics, she has already amassed numerous accolades from global competitions. For instance, in November of the preceding year, she and her team secured a gold and silver medal in aerobics during a contest in Ulaan-Uud, Buriad, Russia.

Zuunkharaa, located in the heart of Mandal soum within the Selenge Province, is renowned for producing top-tier taekwondo athletes. During the sixth Student Sports Festival, you were observed competing fiercely for the championship, right?

Hailing from Zuunkharaa, a central hub within Mandal soum of Selenge Province as you said, I proudly represent one of its native athletes. Recently, I took part in the taekwondo tournament at the sixth Mongolian Student Sports Games and won a silver medal. For athletes, gaining weight proves more challenging than shedding it. This time, I found myself in a new weight class, facing off against taekwondo fighters in the 57 kg category. Their towering stature, build, reach, and strength posed significant challenges. In the championship bout, I faced off against D.Byambajargal, a formidable athlete from National University of Physical Education known for her powerful right kicks. Having studied my techniques from previous encounters, I devised defensive strategies and blocks. Given the vulnerability of shorter athletes to leg strikes, I focused on launching relentless attacks. Though initially disorienting, I adapted to her confident and pressuring demeanor. Understanding the need for enhanced blocking and defensive maneuvers, I prepared to face future opponents.

It is said that your parents wanted you, who grew up fighting with brothers, to practice judo. Is that true?

Certainly. Initially, my family intended to enroll me in judo training. However, during one visit to register for judo classes, I encountered a female taekwondo instructor who encouraged me to join her class. Despite this, relatives expressed concerns, suggesting that combat sports were unsuitable for women and children, advocating for judo instead due to its perceived safety. They doubted my potential in taekwondo, predicting that I would quickly retreat after a single kick. Despite these discouragements, my sister motivated me to pursue taekwondo, while my mother herself had a background in martial arts. As I achieved success in taekwondo, my family gradually came to appreciate and support my chosen path. 

You have many medals won in international competitions. As a child, you walked across the border, came back from Hong Kong with a prize, and gave your family a surprise.

During the international competition in 2017, where I clinched the gold medal, my relatives expressed unexpected delight, offering their congratulations and urging me to strive even harder in the future. To this day, my sister remains a big supporter, faithfully tuning in to every competition I enter, providing encouragement regardless of the outcome. Knowing she's there rooting for me bolsters my confidence as I step into the arena to vie for medals. However, my mother's reaction is quite different; her nerves during my matches are palpable. When she inquires about the competition, she often downplays it, stating it's postponed or delayed. Recognizing my reluctance to showcase matches to the family, they began covertly watching, even instructing my brother to inquire about competition schedules. I later discovered that my mother would arrive early to the venue to eagerly await and observe the matches. With numerous medals earned from both local and international contests, our home is adorned with overflowing ribbons of recognition, some even proudly displayed multiple times.

It is surprising that sports gymnastics attracted the heart of a martial artist so much. It is rare for an athlete to compete in two different sports.

I'm currently enrolled at the “Mon-Altius” Institute of Physical Education, where I'm not only dedicated to taekwondo but also actively engaged in gymnastics to enhance my flexibility. I believe that gymnastics forms the foundation of martial arts and greatly complements my taekwondo skills, offering a visually impressive display. However, when my family learned about my involvement in sports gymnastics, they expressed skepticism, questioning how I could excel in both disciplines. Despite their doubts, I remained determined to pursue both taekwondo and gymnastics persistently.

Under the guidance of coach A.Munkhbayasgalan, I dedicated several months to intensive gymnastics training and had the opportunity to compete in two international competitions in Ulaan-Uud, Buriad, Russia, where I proudly won gold and silver medals. Initially, my achievements were met with disbelief from those around me, who needed to see physical proof before accepting the reality of my success.

Preparing for gymnastics competitions also brought about its own set of challenges, including criticism regarding my appearance. Some questioned whether someone dressed in athletic attire should wear makeup. Additionally, being one of the few women in my taekwondo class, I stood out even more when I participated in gymnastics competitions. Classmates remarked on the contrast between my appearance during competition, where makeup was worn, and my usual attire in the gym, prompting some to even question if it was truly me competing. Despite these comments, I remained focused on my goals, knowing that dedication and hard work would ultimately speak for themselves.

Did you feel that the sport of gymnastics in the northern neighborhood is highly developed when competing with its athletes?

Athletes at the forefront of gymnastics worldwide serve as an inspiration, motivating me to strive for excellence and develop my skills to their level. Recognizing the need for improvement, I've committed myself to enhancing my abilities in gymnastics. My journey into gymnastics began unexpectedly when the aerobic gymnastics coach at our school, Kh.Oyungerel, approached me one day and inquired about my background in taekwondo. Despite my initial self-doubt, I expressed my willingness to try gymnastics, citing my lifelong practice of martial arts. With the guidance of coach A.Munkhbayasgalan, I've made significant progress in gymnastics.

Currently, I participate in gymnastics competitions alongside S.Erdenebat, a fourth-year student at my school, competing in doubles routines. We won a bronze medal at the Club Championship last year. In addition, I engage in ballroom dancing competitions, where I also won a silver medal in the dance category.

It seems that you do not have time to rest as you train in two sports. How do you spend your days off?

After intense training sessions, it's common to experience tension in the muscles of the legs and arms, leaving one feeling both physically exhausted and mentally drained. During these challenging moments, offering support to one another, such as encouraging words like “You can do it”, can make a significant difference. I occasionally take Sundays off that can also provide much-needed rest and rejuvenation. Family members often remind me to take a break on these days, showing their concern for my well-being. 

Balancing training schedules becomes even more crucial when major competitions approach. With the Asian Championships of Olympic Taekwondo scheduled for the end of May and a sports gymnastics competition slated for early June, there's uncertainty regarding which event to prioritize, especially if they overlap. Our teachers will convene to discuss and reach a decision regarding my participation in these significant tournaments.

Do athletes and travelers, who often explore foreign lands, have the potential to inspire others to travel by sharing the sources of their positive experiences abroad?

Thanks to my involvement in sports, I have crossed borders on numerous occasions. Each time an athlete visits a new country, they are exposed to sights and experiences unavailable in their home country. Upon stepping foot in Hong Kong for the first time, I was struck by the sight of beautifully designed parks and sports complexes. Witnessing people of all ages gathering early in the morning to exercise together to the rhythm of music was fascinating. It became evident to me that the secret to the healthy and long lives of our southern neighbors lies in simple yet effective practices. Even though I was just a 12-year-old girl at the time, winning an international competition and standing proudly for the National Anthem remains a vivid memory.

Tell me about the coach who helped you succeed. Everything that was advised must have remained in your mind forever, right?

Taekwondo coach and International Master of Sports, D.Altantuya, is known for her silent dedication in training her athletes rigorously, leading them to success. She operates behind the scenes, without seeking recognition or acknowledgment for her efforts. Under her guidance, we are instilled with the principle of "working quietly and achieving our goals." During my time getting trained under her mentorship, there were moments of difficulty and doubt, especially when enduring the intense training sessions. There were instances when I felt overwhelmed, questioning the purpose of pushing myself so hard. Thoughts of indulging in leisure activities with friends often crossed my mind. However, during such challenging times, the big support and encouragement from my family and classmates served as a source of strength which motivated me to persevere. Moreover, recognizing the demands of training, I was excused from classroom chores to accommodate my after-school training sessions.

Who is your strongest competitor among the athletes in the adult category?

Since last year, I've been competing in the adult category, where I've encountered opponents like B.Uchral, fighting in the 52 kg weight class. Among her peers, she stands out as the strongest competitor, showcasing impressive technique and tactics. I admire her skills and have much to learn from her.

Personally, I approach each bout with confidence, adopting a warrior-like mentality. Doubt has no place on the stage; the mindset is simply to win. Over time, I've transitioned from feeling nervous and excited before competitions to maintaining a calm and tactical approach. With each tournament and the experience gained, the initial jitters have gradually faded away.

Taekwondo, as a sport, is grounded in principles of respect and ethics. Its essence lies in defeating one's own limitations and serving as an example for others. Martial arts athletes adhere to numerous principles, showcasing their learnings not for showmanship but solely on the stage.




 

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