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Dai Li was quite curious, and was eager to know what had happened, as well as what the consequences had been. So, Dai Li said, "Yue Zhao, you have probably forgotten me. Three years ago, I was temporarily transferred to the Beikou Training Center. That's where we met."
Yue Zhao knew the coaches who were temporarily transferred to the Beikou Training Center from other places mainly did chores. It was definitely not a glorious experience. So instead of pointing that out, Yue Zhao gave Dai Li a look indicating he had just remembered everything. He said, "No wonder you looked familiar to me; we really have met before."
In fact, Yue Zhao did not remember Dai Li. Every year, at least eighty coaches were temporarily transferred to the Beikou Training Center, who would be sent back after three months. Now that three years had passed, to Yue Zhao, Dai Li only looked familiar to him and nothing else.
"I heard you were retired then. Why? You are very young and could have continued your career for another four to five years. Were you retired because of injuries?" Dai Li asked.
"Ah!" Yue Zhao sighed, "It was caused by injuries, or more so an illness. I guess it's more accurate to say it was caused by a misdiagnosis."
"Misdiagnosis? Can a misdiagnosis cause retirement? What the hell was all that about?" Dai Li continued to ask.
"It was probably three years ago, maybe less than three years. I felt pain in my knee during training. In the beginning I didn't care about it. But later, during the routine health check, they found a tumor inside my knee," Yue Zhao stated.
"A tumor? That can be anywhere from minor to significant. Did you get some second opinions?" Dai Li wanted to get more information; he pretended to be very concerned so that he could learn about Yue Zhao's experience.
Yue Zhao was quick to share with Dai Li. He continued, "The national team arranged other examinations for me, which directly ruined my professional career. Guess what diagnosis I was given by the doctor?"
"What was it?" Dai Li asked immediately.
"Bone cancer!" Yue Zhao sighed painfully. "I was completely shocked! The doctor told me that my leg had to be amputated, otherwise the spread of the cancer would take my life."
At this point, Yue Zhao was quite agitated. He said much faster, "I am a sprinter. My career, my dream—everything depends on my legs. How could I amputate my leg?"
Yue Zhao paused a moment to calm himself down, then continued, "So I chose to have treatment; I tried to keep my leg. I planned to have chemotherapy, but it was very expensive. You know, it is possible for cancer treatment to cost one million yuan or more…"
"I remember that the national team should have funds for injury and illness treatment, right? Did you apply for it? I think they would have granted you a few hundred thousand yuan," Dai Li said.
"Of course I applied for it; but my application was rejected. The national team told me that bone cancer was an illness I caused, and had not been caused by the training or races, so they couldn't use the fund for my treatment. In the end, they ended up giving me 10,000 yuan as consolation before ending the issue."
Yue Zhao shook his head with a wry smile. "10,000 yuan is nothing for bone cancer treatment. It wasn't even enough for the amputation operation fee. If I had gotten my leg amputated, I may have needed an artificial leg. The price for an artificial leg was more than 100,000 yuan. What I didn't know was that more bad things were coming my way."
Hatred could be seen in Yue Zhao's eyes. He continued, "After learning about my bone cancer, the national team forced me to retire. They gave me a retirement stipend of 50,000 yuan and kicked me out. They abandoned me when I was in dire need of help!"
Dai Li frowned. He had not expected this. 50,000 yuan was indeed only a drop in the bucket for the gigantic treatment fee for bone cancer. Even Dai Li felt it was too cruel for Yue Zhao.
"You didn't expect to hear that, did you? It surprised me too! However, in retrospect, the probability of curing bone cancer was very low. Even if I had been cured, after a long period of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, I wouldn't have had the ability to run like before. And if my leg had been amputated, I would have been disabled. Maybe I could have joined the Disabled Person's Sports Association? Regardless, the national team didn't need a one-legged athlete. To them, I was of no use at all. I was expendable," Yue Zhao said angrily.
"But later you found out that the bone cancer was just a misdiagnosis, right?" Dai Li asked.
Yue Zhao nodded. "In order to treat my cancer and keep my leg, my parents sold our apartment. Then I was sent to the United States and found a bone cancer specialist. I had a more detailed examination in the United States, and they ultimately confirmed that the tumor inside my knee was not bone cancer, but a coagulated blood clot."
"Was it serious?" Dai Li asked immediately.
"It was not serious. However, I chose to stay in the United States to continue the treatment so that I could recover completely." Yue Zhao smiled sadly, then continued, "I am not an athlete with a rich family like Feixiang Lin. I didn't have a lot of money, so during my treatment in the United States, I had to rent the cheapest apartments, which were located on blocks where you could get robbed during the day. All my money was spent on the treatment; I didn't even have money to buy food. I had to work to earn a living. I didn't have a working visa, either, so all I could do was the dirtiest and most exhausting work. I had to put up with it."
Taking a deep breath, Yue Zhao seemed as if he didn't want to remember his experience in the United States. He continued, "Finally, my leg had healed completely. However, my family now owed a large debt. As for me, besides being an athlete, I didn't have any other professional skills."
"I started sprint training when I was nine. I wasn't good at anything except for running and being an athlete. I have a bachelor's degree, which I got just by registering my name in the university; I didn't attend any classes while I was there. I didn't have any professional skills. To me, the computer was just a gaming box. Because of this, it was impossible for me to get a job."
"Your leg had healed, though. Why didn't you return to the national team?" Dai Li had barely finished his question before he realized how stupid his question was.
"Return to the national team? They treated me like something expendable when I was there; why should I go back to them?" Yue Zhao snorted coldly and continue, "In addition, it was impossible for me to return. I had lost two years, which is a huge amount of time for athletes in their peak physical condition."
After he finished speaking, Yue Zhao looked in the direction of his coach and said, "Fortunately, Nandu University took me in. I was specially admitted as a Master Degree candidate; they even gave me a scholarship. I know they want me to win some awards for Nandu University. Moreover, if I could achieve something in the races while I'm here, it will be possible for me to be a coach in the university. Even if I can't stay in the university, I plan to study hard there for several years so that I can master some professional skills and get a job to make a living."
"I see." Dai Li nodded his head. He finally understood why Yue Zhao held a grudge against the national team.
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