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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Air Ticket Saves Mongolian

LILLEHAMMER, Norway -- Mongolia's sole Winter Olympic athlete made a flying start to his campaign when he traveled to Norway by plane instead of train.


Short track speed skater Batchuluun Bat-Orgil originally faced an eight-day train ride from Mongolia to Norway.


But Winter Games spokesman Tor Aune said Thursday that private funds had been found in Ulan Bator at the last minute to pay for air tickets for Bat-Orgil and a Mongolian sports official.


The pair flew into Oslo airport Wednesday night and Bat-Orgil, 24, was already practicing at the Olympic short track speed skating rink in Hamar, south of Lillehammer, Aune added.


He had originally travelled for eight days by rail from his training base in Germany to Ulan Bator in the belief that he had failed to qualify for the Games.


When he got home he learned that surprise withdrawals meant he was able to skate in the Olympics after all -- so he made plans for another eight-day rail journey in the opposite direction.


Fortunately, a kindly benefactor came up with enough money to let the plane take the strain.