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The eight candidates were dashing down the 100m track, and in the blink of an eye they were already past the midway point.
"Congyan Lu takes the lead!" Seeing Lu held a safe lead, Coach Dai Li relaxed a little bit.
"Come on, Lu!" Behind Coach Li, the other seven students were cheering on their teammate. Lu was much faster than the other runners, and was far ahead of the competition.
Lu should be able to reach the qualifying standard of second-level athletes. Coach Li was gratified by Lu's performance. His first 15,000 yuan training fee was surely safe now.
A timekeeper stopped the time device that showed Lu's record: 11.32 seconds. The qualifying standard for a second-level athlete was 11.50 seconds. Lu had hit the standard level successfully. Coach Li was not satisfied with this result, however. Lu had been doing about 11.20 seconds in his daily training. It seemed that the first to run had affected Lu's performance.
Among all the candidates in the first group, Congyan Lu was the only one who had attained the standard. The others' performances were all outside 11.70 seconds. Some people were even outside the 12 second mark. As for Youcai Wu, he had only gotten 11.89 seconds.
Youcai Wu got 11.89 seconds today, which is quite outside the 11.50 second standard. He may have reached the standard with the help of the explosive force halo. It's a pity that two months of hard work and a 15,000 yuan training fee didn't bring him good luck, Coach Li sympathized with Wu.
Meanwhile, Coach Li also felt a sense of relief that his training had worked. Comparing Wu and Lu's performances today to two months ago, their current performances had traded places. Dai Li's training was proven to be better than what was provided by the sports school coaches.
Crowds of parents were sitting in bleacher seats watching their children from afar. They were not permitted to enter the competition site. Youcai Wu's parents were there, too. The other parents were looking at Wu's parents sympathetically. Everyone had heard the news that Wu hadn't done as well as everyone had hoped. To make it worse, Wu's performance fell unexpectedly behind the qualifying standard.
Seeing that her son's failure had attracted so much attention, Wu's mother got angry from the shame. She argued, "This is all about bad luck. If my son was placed in later heats instead of the first one he would have passed without a doubt. There is only one person who passed in the first heat, the others all failed." During her speech, she eyed Congyan Lu jealousy.
"Gosh!" Wu's father sighed.
"What?" Wu's mother asked.
"My dear, the boy who passed is Coach Li's student! He was just walking towards his coach. Can you see the young man who is in a T-shirt? That is Coach Li!" said Wu's father.
"Who is Coach Li?" Wu's mother was confused.
"The one who offered free training to our son, and who later called us saying that he wanted to coach our son, but you refused," Wu's father recalled.
Wu's mom finally remembered Coach Dai Li, as well as that 0.77 second improvement.
She had looked down upon Li, and was conceited in thinking that if a novice coach could help her son improve, her gifted son would make higher achievements after training in a professional sports school. Unfortunately, today's failure had showed the truth of the matter, which was that Wu was not as gifted as they had thought. It was especially apparent in today's test, when Coach Li's student and Wu were in the same heat, yet Li's student had passed but Wu had failed. This proved that Coach Li's training was better than what Wu had received in the sports school.
How could this happen! Wu's mother regretted what she had done. The whole training process had been a complete waste of money and time. She felt that her wrong decision had ruined everything.
"Oh, I never thought that someone from the first heat could pass with a nice result. Which high school is he from?" Director Zhao asked.
"I think I've seen him somewhere before. Ah, he is from No. 2 Middle School. He enrolled in our 100m sprint training course, but didn't show up during orientation," Coach Zhou answered.
"Enrolled but didn't show up? Was it because he was lured away by some coach from No. 2 Middle School or other training programs?" Director Zhao asked.
"I don't think so. In our training course, more than one third of the students are from No. 2 Middle School. I never heard of any training course in that school," Coach Zhou answered, looking at Congyan Lu.
Lu was walking towards another side of the bleachers to join Coach Dai Li and his teammates. Coach Zhou immediately recognized Li.
"Oh boy, is that Li? The winner must be his student," said Coach Zhou.
Although Director Zhao had seen Dai Li's identification photo, because it had been so long and they were so far away from one another,, Zhao was not able to recognize Li in the very beginning. He asked, "Do you know that coach over there? He looks pretty young."
"His name is Dai Li. He was first place in our assistant coach selection test. But for some reason, he was fired," said Coach Zhou.
That's him! Zhao's eyes widened as he realized who the young man was. He hadn't expected to hear his name again. Dai Li, the person who he had fired, had not only showed up right here in front of hm, but had also become a coach. Moreover, Li's student was the first one to win the second-level athlete qualification. It was incredible!
Seeing that Dai Li was now "somebody," Director Zhao was upset. He felt hatred toward Li. Somehow, he also felt disturbed by the news.
The fourth heat began. Another one of Dai Li's students was in this heat. He had a better performance than Conyan Lu, and hit the qualifying standard easily. Li's third student in the sixth heat also reached the requirement. Li had three qualified students now.
Qingliang Xu was in the seventh heat. He was known for having a C-Level talent for the 100m sprint, which meant that with only normal trainings he could become a professional sprinter.
Director Zhao looked surly, mainly due to the fact that Dai Li had achieved a 100% attainment rate, while the sports school participants only had about one third reaching the standard.
You lucky bastard! Your first three students all passed! Zhao swore to himself quietly. Then he saw Qingliang Xu was getting ready to begin.
This one must fail! Zhao thought to himself.
Apparently Coach Zhou couldn't read Director Zhao's mind, as he was busy introducing a student to Zhao. "That boy in the seventh heat is Chuang Liu, he is our seed sprinter. During our own evaluations, he had run inside 11 seconds six times!"
Excellent! If Liu could run within 11 seconds this time, he would probably be selected by Coach Yuejin Chen. Then he would be admitted to the Provincial Sport University's independent recruitment! And I shall be rewarded for my outstanding achievement! Director Zhao got excited thinking about his forecast. He even began to dream about his beautiful life as future vice-president of his school.
Once one became a second-level 100m sprinter, it would be quite hard to improve performance. Even a 0.1 second improvement required great effort, and more importantly, talent. For most ordinary sprinters, no matter how hard they tried, they could not run inside 11 seconds. The 11 second standard was an insuperable barrier to them. So to 100m sprinters, if one could run inside 11 seconds, it indicated that this athlete was gifted, and thus was worth professional training.
A bald man in his fifties was sitting in the middle of the grandstand. He was the Chief Examiner of this standard test—Coach Yuejin Chen, from the Provincial Sport University.
At this moment, Coach Chen was a little down. As the Chief Examiner, the only thing he needed to do was sit here watching and controlling the overall situation. But everything was under control. His body had become stiff. It was too boring. To make it worse, he hadn't found anybody worthy of his professional training. Just as Michelangelo was forced to observe groups of plain pottery bowls, it was a total waste of his time. He had almost worn out his interest.
I will never examine again, Coach Chen told himself. He looked at the tracks, poker-faced, his eyelids drooped.
At the sound of the pistol, the sprinters started. Coach Chen jerked his head up.
Ho? Coach Chen seemed to have found gold in the sand pile. He lurched up to his feet.
Well, well. This boy is a high-flyer. He finally smiled.
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