Thursday, August 9, 2012

NEWS: Uranchimeg's boxing win makes London 2012 Mongolia’s most successful Olympics ever

Originally posted on on August 8, 2012
By David Owen at ExCel in London

August 8 - It was one of those priceless Olympic moments.

At around 10 o'clock, a small corner of East London was transformed suddenly into an outpost of Ulan Bator, as scores of Mongolians celebrated a new Olympic landmark for the landlocked Asian country.

The victory of boxer Munkh-Erdene Uranchimeg in his light welterweight quarter-final bout against host nation favourite Thomas Stalker means that Mongolia is now assured of winning more medals at London 2012 than in any previous Olympics.

With a silver and two bronze medals already in the bank, Uranchimeg's win means that two Mongolian boxers – flyweight Tugstsogt Nyambayar being the other – have qualified for the semi-final stage of their respective competitions.

This assures them of at least a bronze medal.

This, in turn, guarantees Mongolia a haul of at least five medals – a new record.

The country has mustered four medals on three previous occasions, most recently in Beijing four years ago, when it won its first two golds.

It seems particularly appropriate that this record should have been attained at London 2012, as the metal ore for some of the medals was mined in Mongolia.

In effect, the five medals will be going home.

Munkh-Erdene Uranchimeg (left) in action against Thomas Stalker during the men's light welterweight boxing quarter-finals at the London 2012 Olympic Games
Uranchimeg's victory was all the more noteworthy as it was achieved in a highly-charged atmosphere, with the vast majority of spectators noisily urging on the home favorite Stalker.

The din ratcheted up still further for the start of the third and final round, which the Mongolian began with a 14-13 lead.

Stalker responded with a relentless, if sometimes guileless, assault, but at the bell, it was impossible to say whether the red-vested Briton had done enough.

The answer when it came was "not quite", Uranchimeg taking the decision by 23 points to 22.

As a distraught Stalker stormed away, the 100-200 Mongolians present – many armed with the highly distinctive red, blue and gold national flag – began their celebrations in earnest.

They had chanted their support throughout the contest, in spite of being comprehensively outnumbered.

Now they assembled in a happy gaggle at the foot of one of the stands.

One fan said that their fighter's performance had made the 11-hour flight to London worthwhile.

It was, of course, a particularly special moment for Uranchimeg himself, boxing in his third Olympics.

"My soul is full of emotion," he said.

"It has been my longstanding dream to get a medal, which I have now achieved."

The watching Chultem Otgonbaatar Sato, first vice-president of the Mongolian Sports Press Union, indicated that there was every chance the country's medal haul would grow further in the final days of the Games.

Dates with the figure "8" in had proved lucky for Mongolia in the past, he told me.

This latest Olympic landmark had been achieved on the eighth day of the eighth month.

Word List:
  • landmark: an event, a discovery, an invention, etc. that marks an important stage in something
  • assured: certain to happen
  • haul: a large number of points, wins, or successes that someone gets
  • mustered: to come together, or bring people together
  • noteworthy: deserving to be noticed or to receive attention because it is unusual, important or interesting
  • din: a loud, unpleasant noise that lasts for a long time
  • relentless: not stopping or getting less strong
  • guileless: behaving in a very honest way; not knowing how to trick people
  • assault: to attack something
  • distraught: extremely upset and anxious so that you cannot think clearly
  • earnest: with more force or effort than before
  • gaggle: a group of noisy people