International Sports Master B.Tungalag has been under the spotlight after smashing the state record for the clean and jerk in the women’s 48 kg by lifting 90 kg at the latest State Weightlifting Championship. To date, the athlete has broken more than 50 state records.
The interview below delves into 17-year-old B.Tungalag’s experience at the State Weightlifting Championship, which took place on January 3 and 4. The rising-star athlete revealed that she is hoping to win a medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Can you share your comments on winning the State Weightlifting Championship in the women’s 48 kg?
The Mongolian Weightlifting Federation organized its first competition for this year, the State Weightlifting Championship. Weightlifting competitions always kick off with the 48 kg competitions. I was the first athlete to lift this time. I’m elated to have won the first medal and renewed the state record. The competition was very successful. Many records were broken. Eight athletes set new state records at the latest championships.
How many athletes competed in the 48 kg weight class?
This year, there were relatively few participants. I think there were five or six opponents. Another contestant was able to meet requirements for the vice master of sports’ title. My opponents were really strong. They’ve always been great. I lifted 155 kg in total at the State Weightlifting Championships. The runner-up in my division, the one who qualified for the vice master of sports title, pressed a total of 105 kg in the clean and jerk.
Where do you currently train?
I’m a senior at a middle school of sports. I also undergo training at Avragch (Saver) Sports Committee. I plan to enroll into the Police Academy once I graduate.
How long have you been weightlifting? Why did you choose this sport?
It’s been four years now. My relatives are athletes. I started regularly lifting weights in eighth grade. That year, the State Junior Weightlifting Championship was held in Ulaanbaatar. I came to the city center from Baganuur District to watch the competition. It was really interesting to watch and that’s when I decided to become an athlete. Children who were much younger than me were winning medals. I thought I could also do weightlifting and I was motivated to start training.
Weightlifting is a strenuous sport, especially for women. How did your parents react when you first told your parents that you wanted to become a weightlifter?
They weren’t supportive at first. In fact, everyone discouraged me, saying that I shouldn’t and couldn’t do it. People used to ask me if I lifted weights, but now, they ask me if I’m an athlete. I was a small and fragile girl so people doubted my strength.
You’ve broken many state records. Exactly how many have you broken?
The first time I set a record was two years ago during the State Junior Weightlifting Championships, held in Baganuur District. The previous clean and jerk event record was 44 kg, but I lifted 48 kg. I pressed 45 kg in the first round and 48 kg in the next round. Since then, I’ve been breaking the state record one by one. Before I realized, I’d set the state record over 50 times.
You reset the state record once again at the start of this year. Did you break the record you set?
Last December, I broke a record that hadn’t been broken for four years. The state record was 77 kg in the clean and jerk and I made it 85 kg. This time, I lifted 90 kg.
What’s the secret to your endless achievements? Is it regular workout or good technique?
Technique is more important than strength in weightlifting. It doesn’t mean that a strong child can succeed as a weightlifter. You can press heavy barbells without injuring yourself only by learning techniques correctly. I lifted 85 kg last December. I increased it by five kg and received a lot of compliments. I had the potential to lift 90 kg last December, but missed the chance with a slight mistake. I had lifted it but couldn’t manage to hold it long enough. I promised myself to lift 90 kg no matter what back then. I was able to fulfill it this year.
…I now have the ability and skill to compete in continental and world competitions. The only problem that stops me from taking part in international competitions is finance…
What is your personal record in the snatch?
It used to be 60 kg. I renewed it to 70 kg last December. I did quite badly in the snatch event at this year’s State Weightlifting Championships. I’d signed up for 71 kg but I lost it. I will definitely set a new record of 71 kg in the next competition. Had I successfully lifted it, my total score could have become 161 kg.
You’re in the spotlight. How much would you need to lift to win a medal at the World Weightlifting Championships?
It’s possible to secure a bronze if the total score of the two weightlifting events reach at least 170 kg. I’m confident that I can claim a medal in international competitions if I competed against children and my peers.
You’re likely to win a medal if you press 80 kg in the snatch and 100 kg in the clean and jerk. Although it sounds easy, it’s actually pretty hard to do it in real life. Adding just a kg makes it hard to lift. You don’t feel much difference when one or two kg weights are added during a competition, but the time seems to slow when you are holding it up. I have to keep holding 90 kg to get it cleared. I’ll have to train harder to be able to lift 90 kg every time. If I’m able to do so, I can improve my own record later. More training is needed until then.
Have you competed in international competitions?
I’ve never traveled overseas to take part in a competition. However, I won the women’s 48 kg event at the Temuulen International Weightlifting Competition, held in Mongolia last year. Other than that, I haven’t participated in international events. I now have the ability and skill to compete in continental and world competitions. The only problem that stops me from taking part in international competitions is finance.
Schedules of international weightlifting competitions are released on the internet and I look it up all the time. There were competitions I was confident that I could win a medal from if I participate, but I pass the thought with regret. I really want to compete in a competition abroad this year. Even so, my coach will decide which competitions and tournaments I compete in. There’s financial issues as well.
Mongolian athletes participate in competitions overseas with the support from sponsors. Don’t you have that kind of opportunities?
That’s true. I hear about athletes getting sponsors, but I don’t have a person or company that supports me. My parents pay my entrance fee for tournaments. I don’t idly sit around either. I’ve met with quite a few companies and organizations. Although they say that they want to help me out, they don’t support me right before a competition, saying they can’t afford it because of economic difficulties. Most places do this.
Not many people or organizations are willing to support weightlifters. Freestyle wrestlers and judokas, on the other hand, seem to receive a lot of support. The amount of support given to weightlifters is increasing nowadays, though. Recently, M.Ankhtsetseg did well at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Some people probably thought it might not be a bad choice to invest in weightlifters. Since then, the public response and attention to weightlifters has improved quite a bit.
Which competitions do you plan to compete in next?
Competitions for this year have started with the State Weightlifting Championships. The State Youth Weightlifting Championships will be held in March. I can’t participate in junior competitions anymore because I’ll be 18 this year. I will take part in youth and senior competitions from now on.
I want to reset my personal record in the snatch at the State Youth Weightlifting Championships. I wonder if I can lift more than 70 kg. Still, I will work hard to achieve it. I can lift 71 kg or more in the snatch if I train well enough before the actual championships in March. I work out six times a week. I can improve my achievements if I train harder.
Athletes have started to train for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Are you planning to take part in the Summer Olympics as well?
My biggest ambition right now is to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. To do that, I have to participate in many competition beforehand and earn a quota. If I get the chance, I will grab it. I can immediately get an Olympic quota if I win a medal at the World Weightlifting Championships.
Your most recent total score was 155 kg. Athletes need to lift over 170 kg – sometimes almost 200 kg – to stand out on the world stage. What’s stopping you from achieving this?
I wouldn’t say I lack training because I’m doing my best every day. The only thing I’m short of is people to support me and my team. I hope people can help me with my protein supplements and vitamins. I think I can do better without having to worry about these things. Competing with athletes from all over the world will motivate me a lot so I earnestly want to participate in international competitions.