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The so-called "mutual exchange of activities" definitely did not refer to the athletes sitting in a circle, exchanging insights and reflections on their daily training. The mutual exchange activity that Liu Hu was referring to was actually a match—a serious match between both sides!
"Here comes the main course," Dai Li told himself. He had been preparing many days in advance for this match.
Dai Li put up a friendly smile on his face. "I heard a long time ago about the excellent athletes at Nantan Middle School. I can't wait to meet them. Just a moment, Mr. Liu. I'll ask the athletes to clear the field."
As he spoke, Dai Li waved his hands. The athletes paused their training to give up the best training field. The original five athletes, Chen included, walked towards them.
"Mr. Liu, this is our training field. It is not as good as a formal game field. Let's settle for this!" Hui Zhang explained from the sidelines.
"You are too modest, Mr. Zhang. Your facilities are top notch compared to the rest of the country." After saying this, Hu Liu pointed at the two athletes behind him and told Dai Li, "Mr. Li, these are two of my shot put students. This is Jinpeng Lu. He just received the qualification certificate of national first-class athlete."
"National first-class athlete! Nantan is indeed bringing some strong competitors." Dai Li's heart began beating faster.
To become a national first-class athlete in track and field sports, one had to achieve the qualifying result in a high-rank game. In shot put, the qualifying distance for men was 16.20 meters with a 16-pound shot, which was equal to 7.26kg. In youth games, however, if a 6kg shot was used, the qualifying distance was 17.80 meters. This suggested that Jinpeng Lu must have had a lot of formal game experience.
Dai Li's students might have reached the qualifying distance, but they lacked formal game experience. This could be their disadvantage.
After introducing Jinpeng Lu, Hu Liu pointed at the other athlete. "This is Xian Su, also a national first-class athlete." Mr. Zhang then added immediately, "Xian Su is not only a national first-class athlete. He once participated in the National Youth Track and Field Championship, and won the bronze medal in shot put!" Mr. Zhang was reminding Dai Li to be careful.
Dai Li looked at Xian Su from head to toe. "He is the bronze medallist in the national youth championship. I've heard before that Nantan Middle School has a few athletes participating in the national event, and the best one won a bronze medal. It must be this Xian Su. He is the trump card for Nantan, and here he is in front of me!"
After thinking about this, Dai Li commented, "National first-class athletes, and a national bronze medallist. You are worthy of your name. My athletes are mediocre. None of them are first-class athletes, only second-class."
As Dai Li spoke, he introduced Zhanshan Zhao, Lei Qin, Feng Luo, Jiankang Chen and Bin Wang.
"Mr. Li is is planning to send five men to compete!" Hu Liu said casually, which seemed to be more of a complaint. He felt Dai Li was sending too many people.
Shot put was not a combat sport, but having more people had its advantages. More people meant more chances. If each athlete was allowed three attempts, 10 athletes would mean 30 attempts, increasing the chances of getting a further distance. It was like buying lottery—if one ticket had a winning chance of 1 in 17 million, 1 million tickets could increase the odds to 1 in 17.
Dai Li detected the complaint in Hu Liu's words, but secretly felt good about it.
"Now you are sensing the unfairness? What were you doing earlier? You didn't think it was unfair when you decided to raid us during our transition period?" Dai Li cursed them in his mind.
Instead of saying what was really on his mind, he laughed. "My athletes are inexperienced in competition. They train on an isolated team without much of a chance to learn from others. Now that we finally have an opportunity to learn from high-rank athletes, they are all eager to try. I think they should be given the chance to see the outside world. Mr. Liu, my athletes are rookies who have never been in a match. Please be kind to them!"
Dai Li's remark was irrefutable. Hu Liu finally realized that this young coach in front of him was not simple person. He added, "Since this is a friendly match, we don't have to follow the rules of a formal game. How about 3 attempts per person?"
"Not a problem. Let's do it your way." Dai Li turned his head towards his five athletes: "Look carefully and learn from these high-rank athletes. Do you understand?"
"Yes, sir!" the five men answered in one voice. They then stepped backwards and to the side, making the field available.
This made Hu Liu slightly passive. He had intended to discuss with Dai Li the order of the athletes would perform. But now, it seemed that Dai Li was so well prepared that he didn't even offer Hu Liu the chance to do so. By claiming "learning from them", Li put himself in the position of the weak side, which forced the two Nantan athletes to go first.
"We don't know each other. Going first in this situation will expose our true strength. This is not good for us. This young coach may not be good at his job, but he surely knows how to play tricks. Young people today are too reckless. They think playing a few tricks will give them a head start. Yet they don't realize that they have to rely on their true abilities in the sports business. If they are not good at their jobs, playing tricks won't help them."
After thinking about this, Hu Liu waved his hands to get Jinpeng Lu near him. He whispered in a very low voice: "When you go in a minute, don't reserve your strength. Use all of it. I want you to throw far enough to make them feel despair. Crush their morale!"
"Yes, sir! I understand what to do." Despite saying so, Lu appeared relaxed. Hu Liu glanced at Dai Li secretly, smiling with content.
Before this, Nantan had been snooping around. They heard that the Hanbei provincial youth athletic team was missing good athletes, as the good ones had already been taken by the provincial sports team. As a result, Hu Liu was filled with confidence. He believed that as a national first-class athlete, Jinpeng Lu could obtain a victory with ease.
Lu stood in the throwing circle, smeared a handful of chalk powder around his neck, then held the shot ball firmly. He faced the throwing circles with his back, and made a preparatory swing with his body. His torso and shoulders spun rightward, with his upper body leaning forward.
"Ahhh-hah!" With a loud shout, the shot ball flew through the air. As a result of the momentum from the thrust, Lu's body also spun for a while in the air, then stopped.
The shot made a dent in the ground a bit further than the 16 meter circle.
The youth team's coach's face tightened up. "I'm afraid the distance is around 16.30 meters, an excellent result by the standard of a young athlete. I don't think we have a chance of winning this match. Li is a young coach without much experience of leading a team in a match. I don't know if he can handle the stress."
Hui Zhang looked towards Dai Li after thinking about this. However, he found that Dai Li was smiling just as before.
This Dai Li has a calm state of mind, Hui Zhang pondered.
"16.31 meters!" the person in charge of measurements announced.
On the side, Hu Liu started clapping for Lu's excellent performance.
"Excellent! Jinpeng Lu had a very good attempt. 16.31 meters is 11 centimeters further than the qualifying distance of a first-class athlete, and enough to make these second-class athletes on the Jiangbei youth team tremble! As for that young coach that likes to play tricks, I'm going to teach him a lesson today. I'm going to let you know that in front of absolute excellence, no trick will work."
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