Mon­go­lian chil­dren stretch for suc­cess

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Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE - NATALIE THOMAS

PLENTY of kids en­joy play­ing sport after school. Some at­tend dance classes and oth­ers do gymnastics but few would be happy putting in the hours some chil­dren from far­away Mon­go­lia do.

Nine-year-old school­girl Su­vdEr­dene spends four hours a day per­fect­ing the art of do­ing a head­stand on a pole clenched with her teeth and push-ups with­out her feet touch­ing the ground.

She and about a dozen team mates are train­ing in a base­ment in the cap­i­tal city, Ulaan­baatar, to be con­tor­tion­ists.

This is an art that Mon­go­lians say was de­vel­oped in the palace of 13th cen­tury war­lord and na­tional hero Genghis Khan.

Usu­ally per­formed by fe­males, con­tor­tion­ism in­volves twist­ing and stretch­ing the body to the ex­treme.

Lit­tle Suvd-Er­dene makes the moves look easy. That is be­cause she has done years of train­ing since she be­gan with in­ten­sive stretch­ing ex­er­cises at the age of 6.

“I cried when my teacher made me do the stretch­ing ex­er­cises, at that time I felt re­ally dis­cour­aged,” she said.

The girls are given time off school to train un­der the guid­ance of 22-year-old Uran­goo, whose fam­ily have been con­tor­tion­ists for three gen­er­a­tions.

Uran­goo took up train­ing kids after her own hopes of hitting the big time and per­form­ing abroad ended when she suf­fered an in­jury at the age of 12.

Mon­go­lian con­tor­tion­ists are in high de­mand.

They may en­joy in­ter­na­tional ca­reers if they are lucky enough to be spot­ted by scouts from the­atres and cir­cuses.

Suvd- Er­dene’s team­mate, Shinezul, said be­com­ing a con­tor­tion­ist is also a mat­ter of na­tional pride.

“It’s the Mon­go­lian peo­ple’s dream to in­tro­duce Mon­go­lian na­tional cul­ture and art to the whole world, so that’s why I want to be the best con­tor­tion­ist in the world,” she said. – Reuters

Suvd-Er­dene, 9, is train­ing to be a con­tor­tion­ist. It may look hard, but be­cause of their train­ing young chil­dren are able to twist their bod­ies like this.

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