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The next day, Dai Li got to sleep in. He got up right before lunch time and went to the canteen. As the afternoon training was beginning, Lin was still not there. Li had to sit down in a corner and play with his phone. Because he had nothing to do, Li searched about Lin online.
There were no highlights, just ordinary reports about Lin's recent endorsements and gossip. As for training reports, Li could only find an article saying, "Lin has recovered and is now working hard to get back in good condition".
Working hard? That's bullshxt! Li laughed disdainfully. Based off what he had witnessed, Lin wasn't even working as hard as amateurs were, let alone "getting back in good condition."
Why does nobody take care of Lin? Did they give up on this guy? But then why is the news saying this? Why didn't the news tell the public that Lin is still struggling? It it controversial? Li thought about it for a long time, but still couldn't figure it out. He was eager to get to the bottom of it.
Lin didn't show up at 4PM. Li knew that he would not be here today.
Li looked around and saw that coach Jihai Ding was also resting. Li hesitated for a second, then finally walked over to him.
"Hello coach Ding, I'm Dai Li," Li introduced himself.
Coach Ding looked up at Li. "So you are the newcomer, Lin's assistant coach. Anything I can help with?"
"Coach Ding, I've noticed that the other athletes all have training coaches except for Lin—" Li wasn't able to finish because Ding interrupted him.
"Did Lin tell you to talk to me?" asked Ding.
"No, no. I'm asking myself. He doesn't know about this. It just felt a little strange," said Li.
"You are only on secondment. Take care of yourself. This is none of your business, don't look for trouble." Coach Ding became serious. He asked, "Where is Lin? He is not here today."
"Lin said that he had to work with an endorsement today," Li said, telling the truth.
"Huh, spending a whole day on an endorsement, eh? He is abandoning himself! No one can save him!" Coach Ding stood up and walked away, leaving Li alone there.
Abandoning himself? Sounds like coach Ding is disappointed with Lin. Li wrinkled his brows again. Things seemed to be more complicated than he had originally thought.
Dinners at the Beikou Training Center were always hearty. It was not a feast of expensive food every time, but all the food was well prepared and carefully cooked.
A healthy dinner was not too oily nor too fatty, but still tasted as good as it would with those things. For athletes, light food was nice. Today it was a plate of fried shrimp coupled with asparagus, thickened with starch to make the dish glisten, plus a cup of sweet tremella soup. It was a wonderful meal.
The chef for the national team is so good! He is way better than the chef for the provincial team. Chef Cai only knew certain kinds of dishes, and he cooked them all the time. I'm so done with that! Compared to the canteen here, this one is much better! Li thought.
As Li was thinking to himself, a person suddenly appeared. The guy pointed at the seat opposite Li and asked, "Is this seat taken?"
"What? No, go ahead," said Li. He raised his head to see who it was and immediately recognized him.
"You are Haitao Xie, aren't you?" Li introduced himself. "I'm Dai Li. I'm on secondment here."
Haitao Xie was also an athlete in the men's 110m hurdles. He was pretty young, and was regarded as a high-flyer. Xie had only been on the team for two years, and used to attend national competitions, but he hadn't got the chance to go to the international games yet.
"I know you. Lin asked for you himself. Do you guys know each other from somewhere?" asked Xie.
"We met once," Li said, not giving any more details. He didn't want to divulge how they had me, let alone name-drop Feifei's name.
Xie didn't pursue the issue further. Coaches and athletes were colleagues, after all. It was nothing special for a coach to know some famous athletes.
"I saw you going to coach Ding. Were you there for Lin?" asked Xie.
Li didn't want to cover it up, so he told him the truth. "I see that the other athletes all have a training coach except for Lin. That was why I asked coach Ding. But he did not seem willing to talk about Lin. I wonder why."
"Coach Ding didn't try be mean to you on purpose. That was his tough love for Lin. To tell the truth, seeing Lin in such bad condition has made coach Ding the more distressed one. Because of Lin, coach Ding went out drinking alone quite often. He never drank in the past," said Xie.
"Is there some hidden secret?" asked Li.
Xie sighed, then lowered his voice. "Have you ever heard about Lin's injury? He stopped at the first hurdle, and had to be lifted off of the field."
"I know. I watched the live telecast," said Li. If he was correct, that contest had been Lin's last. After that the only news that had come out concerning him was about his recovery.
"Well, Lin had surgery on his Achilles tendon," said Xie.
"The news said the surgery was successful," said Li.
"Well the surgery was successful, that was true. But Lin really wanted to get back on the field, so he returned to high-intensity training before he was fully recovered. He did make some progress, but unfortunately God seemed to want to make fun of him. During an internal test, he hurt himself again in the same place, but worse," Xie said, slowly told the story.
"Exercise rehabilitation is worth learning, especially for athletes. Some injuries can stay with them forever," said Li.
Xie continued, "Lin had to receive a second operation."
"How did the second one go?" asked Li.
Xie shook his head. "I don't know. I got here late, so the others told me the story, but nobody told me about that part. Some people said the operation was not successful. They said Lin returned to the team, but began to lose himself. He was no longer himself. He was always late for training, he also went to pubs at night, and now he has turned into a completely different person."
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