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The chief coach of the weightlifting team, Guangming Song, guided Dai Li to the central training room.
"Alright guys, assemble!" As Coach Song clapped his hands, all the coaches and trainees stopped to gather together.
"Please allow me to introduce you to our new colleague. This is Dai Li, our new fitness coach." Song pushed Li forward a bit and said, "Li, could you introduce yourself?"
"Hello everyone, I'm Dai Li from Yuzhou City. You can call me Li. Nice to meet you," said Li.
"Dai Li, nice name! I read a novel recently where the main character is an athlete named Guan Zhang. You two can be a pair titled 'Zhangguanlidai①!' That's hilarious!" an outgoing coach said.
Coach Song jumped in with a big smile. "Come on, Xiang Huang! Do you know that your name means 'yellow shxt?' I feel sorry for you!"
"Hey coach, don't make fun of me!" Huang laughed.
Coach Song pointed at Xiang Huang and introduced him to Li. "This guy is named Xiang Huang. He has a big mouth, and often tells cold jokes. Come here, let me introduce the others. This is Coach Guangyi Ma, he is our vice-chief coach, and is in charge of trivialities."
"Nice to meet you, Coach Ma," Li immediately greeted.
"Hi," Coach Ma nodded at Li, not saying anything else.
"This is Coach Wei Wang, this is Coach Tao Liu, and that one is..." Coach Song introduced everyone there. Li was trying to remember everyone's names.
"OK then. Dismissed!" Song finished the introductions then waved to Coach Ma. "Hey Ma, could you show Li around? He is new here."
"Sure," Coach Ma nodded. His eyes shined with coldness.
Coach Ma showed Dai Li around the training center so he could know his way around.
"Alright, Li, this training center is a small place, so that's all we have here. Now how about we talk about your arrangements?" Ma glanced at Li then asked, "We lack manpower. Would it be OK if you started working today?"
"No problem, I'm always ready," answered Li.
"Good. Have you ever trained any weightlifters before?" asked Coach Ma.
Li shook his head. "I saw some other coaches do it, but I have never done itt myself. I'm not sure about professional training, but I'm pretty good at fitness training."
"Right, you are a fitness coach." Coach Ma paused, then continued, "Then I won't give you any professional training tasks. You are new here, it would be better if you get familiar with your job first. How about I pair you up with an experienced weightlifter. You can work with him for a while."
Coach Ma turned around and said, "He is very skilled in techniques, so he doesn't require much technical guidance. You can focus on strength and physical training. This way you can also learn about our training process."
"Thank you Coach Ma." Li looked at Coach Ma with appreciation. He thought what Ma had said was reasonable. By pairing him up with an experienced athlete, Ma was taking good care of him as a newcomer.
"OK, if you don't have any questions, then let's do it," Coach Ma said, leading Li to a corner. There was a strong man holding a barbell rod doing basic training.
Getting closer, Li finally saw the man's appearance clearly. This man was over thirty, less than 1.7 meters tall, and dark skinned, but had big eyes, bushy eyebrows, a large nose, thick lips, and protruding ears. His hairline was pretty high and Dai Li could see he was going bald. In general, he was not bad.
Coach Ma moved closer to the athlete and said, "Aiguo Jiang, this is our new coach, Li. I bet you heard his name during Coach Song's introduction. Coach Li will be in charge of your recent training."
"Nice to meet you Jiang, my name is Dai LI." LI took a step closer, offering Jiang his hand. But Jiang only replied with a contemptuous look. He ignored Li's hand, only nodding. "Got it," he said.
Jiang's coldness astonished Dai Li. Even though they were meeting for the first time, Jiang's alienation was not what Li had expected.
Coach Ma gave some unimportant instructions, then left. Jiang still looked cold as he stared at Li, then asked, "Li, how old are you?"
"23 years old." Li answered, not telling the truth. He was actually younger than that.
"You are too young to be a provincial team coach. Did you get here through a relationship?" Jiang asked.
Li was silent. He couldn't answer it. Technically, he had used some relationship. He had been recommended by Coach Xu. Otherwise he would not be able to work for the provincial sport team. He was sill brainstorming for an acceptable answer when Jiang waved his hand.
"I see. I was wondering what kind of coach the team had to offer, but I never expected to have a young coach like you."
Li suddenly realized that the reason Jiang was being so cold towards him was because he was too young to be an skillful coach. Besides, he was recruited through a supporting relationship, so Jiang looked down upon him.
People who worked in any sport were completely reliant on their own abilities, or performance, so to speak. The one who achieved the better performance, more honor, or more gold medals gained more respect. It was the same for coaches— with more famous trainees came more authority. Newbies like Li would have a hard time working in this field because he was not famous at all. Most athletes didn't think much of him, let alone experienced athletes like Jiang.
"Hey Li, from now on, when I'm training, you work as my assistant. You do whatever I want you to do. Clear?" Jiang said in a cold tone.
Huh? I'm not an assistant coach! Li thought angrily to himself.
The assistant coach was at the bottom of the whole team, which was similar to a training partner. Although in weightlifting training partners were not needed, the so-called assistant coach was actually doing the same job. Even ordinary athletes could give them orders.
Li felt it was unfair, since he was an authorized employee. He had a higher position than those contract-employed coaches, so he deserved more advanced tasks. How could Jiang consider him a little coach's assistant?
But keeping calm, Li realized he shouldn't have quarrels with other team members on the first day here. So Li held back his anger and nodded in agreement.
Don't look for trouble! There is still time! Gold will shine everywhere! Li thought, comforting himself.
①: Zhangguanlidai, a Chinese idiom, literally means "to put Zhang's hat on Li's head", the actual meaning is "to confuse one thing with another."
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