A horseman’s memory lives on in Mongolia thanks to unprecedented victory in the AIPS Sport Media Awards

Mongolian photographer Ganbat Chuluunbaatar gives the awarded picture to the wife of the horseman who passed away. (Photo: Ganbat Chuluunbaatar)

AIPS Media   

LAUSANNE, February 18th, 2020 – When Ganbat Chuluunbataar returned to Mongolia, he was welcomed as a national hero. Even the president wanted to meet him. Chuluunbataar seized the third prize in Photography Best Action Picture of the AIPS Sport Media Awards for his shot of catching a lasso, a traditional sport in Mongolia. When he was included in the world’s top 30, he tried to reach the character of his winning shot, he found out some terrible news.

“As soon as I found out my picture was selected among the Top 30 in the Photography Sport Action category, I started looking for the horseman to whom I took that picture. I wanted to share the good news with him and celebrate the result with him. But, on September 2019 – one month after the World Nomad Games and after the day I took the picture – , I heard the sad news the horseman in my shot passed away by a motorcycle accident,” he says.

So, after his success in Budapest, in a global ceremony “that looked like the Oscars”, he wanted to share his prize with the horseman’s family. “This prize is not just mine. It belongs to him, too. On February 10th, I invited his wife Mrs. Oyunsuvd, mother of 3 children, who is living in Lun Tuv (Ulaanbaatar province). I was grateful for having had the chance to meet his family and to give the wife the printed and framed picture of “Before a catch!”, including the AIPS Sport Media Award 3rd place certificate. She really appreciated it: this is a piece I am happy to give the horseman’s children, a way to give them a bit of their father’s passion and life. A moment of sport celebrated in Budapest and worldwide thanks to the power of the AIPS Sport Media Awards. From a small town in Mongolia to all over the globe: everybody can now see how their dad was cool”.

The third prize of the AIPS Sport Media Awards’ second edition was the first recognition ever for a Mongolian photographer in a global journalism contest. “First, there was a little wish that I could become a winner, the 1st place. Every athlete wants to change the colour of medal when you know you got bronze, but still have hope for gold. bsp;I felt this way, too. But afterwards, I realised I was chosen among so many top-level photographers, my picture is one of the three selected pieces in the Sport Action category, and I won the third place, competing with photographers working for world’s top agencies, such as AFP and Xinhua. I feel very honoured and proud of my job”, says Chuluunbataar, who works as a photographer since 1990.

For him, being a top 30 was already a reason to celebrate: “When I saw my name published I was totally honoured and after that, I felt relaxed. Being a top 30 was a big deal, so inspirational, especially considering the importance of such big competition at an international level. Then, as soon as I realised my picture was chosen among the Top 10 and, later, Top 5, the news made me very proud of all the efforts”.

-Please tell us the difficulties you’ve faced for taking this shot
-Honestly, I felt scared and insecure by taking this picture: it was my only chance to get a good shot by using wide-angle technique, and the camera – Nikon 5D – was very close to the action. One attempt, one shot. We all knew how much expensive this kind of camera body and its lens are. The risk of a horse kicking the camera was very high. But, hopefully, Mongolian-breed horses have a natural reaction to any obstacles or objects on their track, including rocks and holes.

-The angle was very particular, how did you do it?
-I used a wide-angle lens and a remote controller of my Nikon 5D. I put my camera and lens on the horse track, that’s why it was very risky. And I feel so happy for the result I got it.

-People from all over the world saw your picture and were amazed by it. Is this a traditional sport in your country?
-Catching a lasso rope is one type of traditional nomad games. There are also horse bucking, racing, and lasso a horse. Of course, many are the people involved and interested in it. Traditional nomad games are even an essential source of tourism in Mongolia.

-As the AIPS Sport Media Awards is an international competition, what can this prize bring to Mongolian sports journalism?
-First, it opens a new door. In the next edition of the AIPS Sport Media Awards competition, there will be for sure many submissions from Mongolia.
Moreover, two day after the ceremony, on February 5th, Mongolia also had a big presentation for International Youth Green Games 2020 during the 83rd AIPS Congress in Budapest: for the very first time, sports journalists are invited to take part in an international sport event in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

-What happened after you’ve returned to your country?
-It is the first time Mongolia won a prize in the Sports media field. Therefore, as soon as I came back home, I was invited by Mr.Battulga Khaltmaa, President of Mongolia, to congratulate me. It was such an honour. Also, in these days I have been interviewing by tens of televisions and newspapers. Now that I am beyond words proud of it, I know I have to work harder than before.

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