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As a top sprinting coach, Coach Chen was very aware of speed. He glanced at Haiyang Chen and immediately knew that he had run pretty fast. Soon the results came out. First place had gotten a time of 10.64 seconds.
"10.64 seconds? Is that real? How can he be that fast?!"
"Hand timing is 0.24 seconds clear of automatic timing. 10.64 seconds plus 0.24 seconds equals 10.88 seconds. That is good enough to reach the national first-class athlete qualifying standard."
"The standard for a first-class athlete is 10.93 seconds with automatic timing, he has reached that requirement for sure."
"What is he doing? Why doesn't he go to official competitions instead? Is he here to show off?"
"I have been a PE teacher for decades, this is the first time I have seen something like this. This student is qualified to be in first-class, but he is here for a second-class athlete qualification test. What was he doing in the past?"
Everybody was talking about this. They were all discussing Haiyang Chen, who had just made a 10.64 second dash.
Because the result was timed by hand, according to tradition, the conversion to official automatic time should add a 0.24 second time gap, hence Haiyang Chen's final result was 10.88 seconds. The qualifying standard for a national first-class sprinter was 10.93 seconds. If evaluated by performance, Chen was on the first-class level.
Unfortunately, Chen could not receive a first-level certificate. Starting from first-level, the higher level athletes were not assessed by regular competitions. They had to get official grades in national contests. For instance, if a 100m sprinter wanted to be admitted as a national first-class athlete, his official result in a national competition must be under 10.93 seconds. Official contests applied fully automatic timing, so all grades were evaluated by automatic time.
Competitions were completely different from assessments. Sprinters may face all kinds of errors or interruptions, such as crack under pressure. Sometimes one needed not only his ability but also fortune to succeed. Because of this, only higher level athletes had the possibility of getting test-free admissions to college.
Although Haiyang Chen had a nice grade, he still had a long way to go. He needed more professional training and sufficient practical experience to become a first-level sprinter. However, a beautiful performance was good enough to prove Haiyang Chen's capacity, and astonish Coach Chen at the same time. Haiyang Chen was only 0.11 seconds clear of Qingliang Xu, but a 0.11 time difference was evident enough to differentiate between the two levels. Between these two competitors, Lei Wang was not even worth mentioning.
Coach Chen had been going for Lei Wang, and had planned to offer him an admission to college, but Haiyang Chen had effectively changed Coach Chen's plan. One candidate had gotten 10.64 seconds while another had gotten 10.84 seconds. Anyone with a clear head knew what to do. Coach Chen turned around and left, leaving Director Zhao alone.
"Coach Chen, where are you going?" Director Zhao looked embarrassed. His hand was still suspended in mid-air, but Coach Chen had already walked away.
Zhao heard the crowd exclaim. He realized that someone had just gotten 10.64 seconds!
"Who—who did that? When did he show up?" Director Zhao was flabbergasted. He definitely knew that there was a big gap between 10.64 seconds and 10.84 seconds. He could only pray that the one with 10.64 seconds would not be eligible in some way, so that he would still have a chance to get the last admission spot.
"I think I have seen that student before. He also enrolled in our training program, but didn't show up to the orientation." Coach Zhou's voice rang in Zhou's ears, blowing away his last hope.
"Coach Li, I passed!" Haiyang Chen ran towards Dai Li with excitement, but Li was looking behind Haiyang Chen. Coach Chen hurried towards them.
"That is Coach Chen from the Provincial Sport University, he is here again. He admitted Qingliang Xu before, and this time Haiyang Chen got 10.64 seconds. Coach Chen will probably give him an admission, too!"
Thinking about this, Dai Li's face beamed. He welcomed Coach Chen, saying, "Hello Coach Chen, I never thought we would meet again so soon."
"You again? You are…What's your name again?" Coach Chen tried to recall Dai Li's name. Even though they had just met about half an hour ago, he didn't remember Li's name.
"Dai Li. My name is Dai Li," Li said, immediately giving his name without any dissatisfaction.
"Oh right, Dai Li!" Coach Chen took a look at Haiyang Chen, then asked another question. "Is this 10.64 second boy also your student?"
"Yes, he is also my student. His name is Haiyang Chen, a high school graduate." Dai Li pushed Haiyang Chen to the front, still introducing him. "Chen has great potential in the 100m sprint, and he is very hard working. He is the best among my students…" Dai Li was searching for every good word to help Haiyang Li, doing everything short of asking to be admitted.
But on the contrary, Coach Chen was not in a hurry now. He was no longer eager to recruit the boy. Instead, he was interested in Dai Li, the coach. The best performers had all been Dai Li's students. If Qingliang Xu had won the competition, he could say that Li was lucky to find such a gifted student; but here came another winner, Haiyang Chen. He could not convince himself that it was just a coincidence. With his extensive working experience, his intuition told him that this young man, was unusual.
Coach Chen looked behind Dai Li and asked, "How many students did you have for this assessment, Dai Li?"
"Eight. I mentioned to you before that I am working alone. I run a training class, and these eight students are trained by me. They have been with me for two months," said Li.
Coach Chen nodded and asked, "How many passed this assessment?"
"Seven," Li answered without hesitation.
"Seven out of eight students reached the second-class athlete qualifying standard. This attainment rate is extremely high! How could they have such a capable coach in such a small city? Perhaps I looked down on this young man. He may be a man of ability," Coach Chen thought.
Then a voice suddenly rang from a distance.
"Coach Li, I made it!"
This was Li's last participant. He was in the fourteenth heat. Dai Li smiled with relief, then turned to Coach Chen. "Coach Chen, now all eight students have reached the standard."
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