From Mongolia to Minnesota, Oyuna Uranchimeg is living a Paralympic dream
Oyuna Uranchimeg competes in a wheelchair curling round robin match against China during the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games on March 8, 2022 in Beijing.
Uranchimeg never played sports growing up, and even after her injury, she only tried wheelchair basketball once before “going on with life”.
Then, six years ago, a friend asked him for “lunch,” a disguised invitation to take him to the Four Seasons Curling Club in Blaine, Minnesota, where the USA wheelchair curling team was holding a summer camp. coaching. They didn’t finish lunch, but Uranchimeg rolled on the ice that day and, five years later, found herself making her world championship debut in the sport. In 2021, she helped the United States finish fourth in the event and earn a last-ditch berth at the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games.
Team USA wheelchair curling got off to a slow start this week at the National Aquatics Center, starting with a 1-3 record before coming back to 4-4 with a win over Latvia on Wednesday. With two round robin games to play, Team USA is in contention for fourth place in the semi-finals.
Win or lose, Uranchimeg embraces the complete experience. And when she’s not on the ice, she can be found in the Athletes’ Village, thinking way beyond what’s being played in the venue known as the “Ice Cube.” She hopes her presence in Beijing will be seen by others and motivate them to take the lead in improving society in their own lives, especially in her native Mongolia where her siblings and extended family still reside.
“I don’t think I’ll ever come back because I’ve already built my life in America,” she said. “But I had this goal to do something to improve the accessibility situation in Mongolia, to help improve the quality of life for people with disabilities there.”
“Since I was born and raised there, my heart is always in Mongolia. When I go back and visit I see how bad the conditions are for wheelchair users. They can’t even work or go to the store alone. If there is anything I can do to improve the situation, I will try to help.
For now, however, as a loyal friend, devoted mother and avid milk chocolate lover, Uranchimeg is at peace wherever her life has taken her.
“I’m proud to have been able to build a normal life for myself and for my children, and to finally be here at the Paralympic Games to represent Team USA,” she said. “I can’t ask for more in life. It’s incredible.”
Want to follow Team USA athletes during the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games? Visit TeamUSA.org/Beijing-2022-Paralympic-Games to view the competition schedule, medal table and results.