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The news that Jiang would be competing in the 62kg weight class spread all over the team. It was much harder to drop weight than it was to gain weight in weightlifting, especially when Jiang had been in the 69kg weight class for almost 14 years. It surprised a lot of people when they heard that he was going to the 62kg.
No one had positive opinions about Jiang's decision besides Li. Jiang was 32-years-old, after all. Most domestic athletes' physical abilities began to deteriorate when they got to this age, and most of them were simply counting down to retirement.
Xiang Huang began gossiping again in the cafeteria.
"Jiang is really hard-working. In order to stay on the team, he dropped down to the 62kg weight class. You know he is in his 30s. Normally athletes his age are retired," Xiang Huang said.
"All he wants to do is to extend his career to 15 years so he can get a higher pension. I heard that his daughter's second surgery is soon," Coach Tao Liu said next to them.
"But I think that even if he decides to go down to the 62kg weight class it will still be difficult for him. There are only two weeks left before the championship. He does not have much time; he might fail before the game even begins because he is overweight.
Weightlifting was divided by weight class. You couldn't take part in the game if you were even 0.01kg overweight the day the weighing took place.
It took two hours to weigh the athletes right before the competition. The pre-weighing room was opened one hour prior so the athletes could prepare for it. The actual weighing room opened one hour later. Athletes could weigh themselves as many times as they wanted. They could go to the restroom or do some strenuous exercises if they found that their weight was not where it needed to be, then weigh themselves again until they were satisfied with the number.
According to the rules of weightlifting, if two athletes lifted the same weight, lighter of the two would win. Every athlete would try everything to bring their weight down. During the 1980s, there was a top-level athlete who lost the Olympic games to his rival because he was 0.05kg heavier than him. It was because he had drank a cup of milk for lunch. That game was named the "milk medal" because of the incident.
Normally, the athletes started to restrict their diet a few days before the game, only eating some vegetables while limiting the consumption of carbohydrates. 48 hours before the games began, the athletes would restrict their consumption of water. Some even stopped drinking water entirely, to the point where they were slightly dehydrated.
The athletes also had saunas before the competition began. Those who were in a high weight class could lose 2-3kg in the sauna after 30 minutes. If they could not find a sauna, they usually wrapped themselves in down coats and quilts just to make themselves sweat and become lighter. Some considered this procedure torture. There was also an extreme method, which was to cut one's hair, beard, and fine hair, getting rid of keratin, and even cutting one's nails if it meant a lighter weigh-in.
To weigh less, the athletes wore nothing whilst being weighed, not even their underwear; they were naked when they stood on the scale. In national competitions, normally they would ask a male judge to be in charge of male athletes and a female judge to be in charge of female athletes to make the athletes less uncomfortable. However, in international competitions, foreigners did not care about it. There were usually five to six judges, both male and female, which made it a little embarrassing for the naked athletes to stand on the scale.
It was quite normal for some athletes to not pass the weigh-in before the games. There had been an athlete from west Asia who could not reach the standard for the Asian championship, and had to give up before the game even began. Even in national competitions, there were a bunch of people who forfeited due to their weight.
Two weeks passed very quickly. The day had come for the national weightlifting championship in Qing City.
The 62kg weight class was the second-lightest group for men's weightlifting. Because of this, the 62kg weight class happened earlier than the other weight classes. Jiang arrived very early in the morning to prepare.
"All athletes taking part in the 62kg weight class competition, please come here and prepare to weigh-in before the games," a gentle female voice echoed from a speaker on the wall. The athletes who were preparing to compete in the competition all stood up and walked to the pre-weighing room.
"My big bro, Jiang, let's go get ready!" Dai Li said.
"Sure." Jiang walked to the pre-weighing room with an oppressive look.
Somebody near called his name at that moment.
Li turned around and saw the person who had spoken was a coach from another team. He felt like he had seen that face before.
"He looks so familiar to me. I must have met him before. Where was it?" Aiguo Jiang called out his name while Li was still trying to remember.
"Gang Shi, why are you here?" Aiguo Jiang patted his head right after he finished his sentence. "Sorry, that must be my bad memory. You are the main coach for the weightlifting team of Jianglin City now!"
Dai Li stood next to them and realized who this guy was when he heard his name.
"Gang Shi, the champion of the Olympic games. No wonder he looks so familiar to me. He looks much bigger than before. I didn't recognize him at first glance. He became a coach after his retirement!" Dai Li suddenly remembered what happened between Gang Shi and Aiguo Jiang.
Jiang had beaten Shi in the competition prior to the Olympics, and had qualified to take part in the Olympic games. However, he had to give the spot up because he had gotten injured. Shi replaced Jiang, and won the gold medal in that Olympic games. From then on, their fates had been completely changed. Jiang had left no remarkable records after that, and was gradually forgotten by other people. Even the provincial weightlifting team was preparing to kick him out.
Shi had not achieved any good records after that either, but thanks to the title "champion" that the Olympic games had given him, he enjoyed countless compliments and was worshipped. Both the country and the government provided him with a high bonus. All the commercials also brought him income, so he didn't have to worry about food or clothes. Even after he retired, his former champion identity still helped him become a well-known coach for weightlifting without any suspense. Now he was the main coach for a provincial weightlifting team.
"It seems like fate likes to play jokes on people!" Dai Li sighed to himself.
Shi walked over to them and said, "Aiguo, we haven't seen each other for a year, yet you seem healthier than before! Let's catch up since we have nothing better to do anyway. Let's go over there and find a seat."
"Shi, I will go find you and talk to you after the game. I need to get ready for the competition right now," Aiguo Jiang said.
"Competition?" Shi was lost. "Aiguo, are you confused? This is for the the 62kg weight class. Your game begins in the afternoon according to the agenda."
"I'm an athlete in the 62kg weight class," Jiang explained.
"What? You transferred to the 62kg weight class? Since when? I remember that you were still in the 69kg weight class when I came here last year." Shi looked astonished.
"Two months ago," Jiang said.
"Two months ago? Are you out of you mind? Do you have any idea how old you are…" Shi suddenly stopped because he remembered Jiang's daughter, who had a special condition.
Shi breathed deeply and said, "Aiguo, we have been friends for more than 10 years. If your family is in trouble, tell me. I'm not rich, but I can help you at least a little bit."
"Thanks, Shi! I'm already satisfied with your words." Jiang nodded at Shi and walked into the pre-weighing room.
Shi opened his mouth, but said nothing. He knew that he would hurt Jiang's pride if he continued. Jiang walked into the pre-weighing room and looked at the young athletes standing around. You could see the differences between him and the others.
He was not a successful athlete, nor did he know how to make a big fortune. His family was a heavy burden on him. His daughter was waiting for the money for the surgery. But he did not need other people's pity or sympathy, let alone someone else's charity. He believed that he could bare the burden of his family and make his family live better with his hands and effort!
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