Mongolian-born judoka of Kazakhstan G.Otgontsetseg changed her citizenship and settled in Kazakhstan in January 2015.
“Competing in the National Judo Championships of Kazakhstan was the hardest thing. The referee of the tournament asked me to change my judogi (judo uniform) or to rip it off because I appeared on the mat wearing judogi with the state flag of Mongolia. I didn’t have an extra judogi and ripped the state flag of Mongolia from my judogi. That moment was the hardest. I said to myself that I am Mongolian. I have to be patient. I can’t show my tears to others but I cried. At that time, I thought that I have to try hard and achieve because I am a Mongolian,” she said with tears in her eyes.
G.Otgontsetseg has been showing brilliant performances at international tournaments and has become one of the world’s top judokas in her weight division.
The judoka returned to her mother country, and gave an interview for the first time since changing her citizenship.
We heard that you came to Mongolia after the 2017 World Judo Championships for a surgery. Are you well?
I am quite well. After competing in the 2017 World Judo Championships, me and my teacher (coach) stayed in Kazakhstan only for one day and returned to Mongolia. Olympic champion N.Tuvshinbayar celebrated his new traditional wrestling title, Ulsiin Zaan (State Elephant). I wanted to participate in his title celebration and arrived quickly.
After taking part in the celebration, I had a surgery and was treated in a hospital. Now I am well.
You usually do your training and tournament preparation in Mongolia. What do you want to do first when you come here?
I always feel very excited when I fly to Mongolia. I rush to meet my parents and receive kisses from them. I do my training and compete in the tournaments according to the plan approved by the Kazakhstan Judo Federation. There is no specific schedule for training. Sometimes I do my training in Kazakhstan and sometimes in Mongolia.
I like to train and stay home with my parents here. But I can’t miss the Kazakhstan national judo team training and joint training. I always miss my Mongolian teammates when I am in Kazakhstan. We are like a family.
You won bronze medals from the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games and 2017 World Judo Championships. Of course, you thought you would win a gold medal at the World Championships.
Of course, I did. I did all these things to achieve and sacrificed a lot of things. I aimed to become a world champion, but I couldn’t fulfill my objective.
I don’t undervalue my bronze medal. I have so many World Championships to compete in. I will fix my mistake in the future.
I want to express my gratitude to the people of Kazakhstan for always supporting me.
Two Mongolian judokas stood on the medal podium at the 2017 World Judo Championships and the President of Mongolia Kh.Battulga handed the awards to you. How did you feel when the state flags of Mongolia and Kazakhstan were raised at once?
State Honored Athlete M.Urantsetseg competed in the women’s 48 kg with me. Another Mongolian judoka, E.Bazarragchaa, also competed in the tournament for Azerbaijan.
Mongolian judokas have been showing extraordinary achievements at world tournaments. Athletes’ skills are continuously improving day by day.
I felt so excited when I stood on the medal podium with M.Urantsetseg and the President of Mongolia.
“…Mongolian athlete M.Urantsetseg competes in the women’s 48 kg. I also compete in the women’s 48 kg category. I had to reach my objective to compete in the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics. That’s why I became an athlete of Kazakhstan…”
Kazakhstan Judo Federation and the Mongolia Judo Association signed a contract in 2015 and you became a judoka of Kazakhstan. How did you receive Kazakhstan’s offer?
I couldn’t imagine that I would become an athlete of the country, where I don’t know anyone or anything about the culture and language. I didn’t just agree to their proposal. I thought about it for a long time and discussed it with my family.
Mongolian athlete M.Urantsetseg competes in the women’s 48 kg. I also compete in the women’s 48 kg category. I had to reach my objective to compete in the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics. That’s why I became an athlete of Kazakhstan.
They didn’t offer a proposal just to me, but to my teacher as well. My family said, “It is your choice, my darling. Do what you want.”
My teacher always helps and treats me well. I went to Kazakhstan with my teacher. I couldn’t accept their proposal just because they offered me.
It wasn’t easy when you wrote a letter that read, “Please allow me to change my citizenship and become a judoka of Kazakhstan”, and handed it to the president of the Mongolian Judo Association.
There is a quote: “If you’re afraid, don’t do it. If you’re doing it, don’t be afraid!” I made a tough choice.
It was hard to compete in the State Judo Championship of Kazakhstan when I first came to Kazakhstan. I cried a lot at the time.
You won the State Championship of Kazakhstan. How did the Kazakh people receive that? Were you afraid that you wouldn’t win? You couldn’t have competed in the World Judo Championships if you had lost.
I had to be very responsible at the tournament. I thought about a lot of things.
What was the hardest thing to do when you first went to Kazakhstan?
The language barrier. I couldn’t learn Kazakh when I was in Mongolia. There was no time. Kazakh judokas taught me so many things, like some Kazakh words and numbers, and more.
The Kazakh people always support my teacher and me. I communicate with them through Russian. I learned some Kazakh, but not well.
The weather condition and food in Kazakhstan and Mongolia are almost same. We have adapted well.
At the end, what would you like to say?
I am really proud of my nationality. I am proud of being a Mongolian. I always think about Mongolia when I succeed on the world and Olympic mats.