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Late that night, Yue Zhao was tossing and turning restlessly in his bed. He couldn't fall asleep. He had been quite touched by his parents' words during their lunch.
He was already twenty-six, and no longer an ignorant adolescent anymore. Many people his age had established their family and had children. Yue Zhao felt as if he had yet to achieve anything. His family was in a debt crisis because of his illness.
If I hadn't devoted myself to a sports career as an athlete and had studied hard in school, maybe I would have had a stable job, a family, and a kid. Yue Zhao turned over in bed and sighed regretfully.
However, if I stopped being an athlete now, what else would I do? Would I set up a stand and sell food? Yue Zhao turned over in his bed again. He knew merchants who sold breakfast could make a lot of money, which would at least be more than the salary of an unknown athlete.
I have been an athlete for over ten years. Should I give up now? As he thought about it, Yue Zhao's heart was filled with agony and reluctance.
He had devoted himself to this career for over ten years. He had even been admitted to the national team, and once had a promising future. How could he give up so easily? Yue Zhao did not want to give up, but he also couldn't bear to see his parents worry about him all the time.
If Yue Zhao had been a few years younger and had not been hurt by his misdiagnosis, he would have chosen to continue his career as an athlete. However, after the setbacks, Yue Zhao was more mature psychologically. He could not go about his business whilst ignoring his family's feelings like a young boy.
My parents are getting old. They are worried about me; they can't take a hit for the second time. For them, a safe and sound family is the biggest priority. Yue Zhao took a deep breath. My parents have given so much to me. I should fulfill their wishes now. I can't be headstrong like a little kid anymore.
Finally, Yue Zhao made up his mind to give up his dream of being an athlete. He decided he would study hard in Nandu University and obtain his master's degree. It would be great if he could work at the university after his graduation, but if not, he could also find a decent job with his master's degree.
The University Games was ended. Dai Li's work in Tsinghua University had also come to an end temporarily. Without upcoming competitions, there were no training responsibilities. Therefore, Dai Li would return to the national team and continue his apprenticeship under Li Xue.
Tsinghua University was very satisfied with Dai Li's accomplishments. One gold and one bronze medal in the 100m sprint had been the best accomplishment Tsinghua University had ever achieved in history.
"Coach Li, thank you very much for your contribution to Tsinghua University. We really appreciate your hard work these last few months." Professor Fang handed a box to Dai Li and said, "We don't have a very expensive gift for you. This is a souvenir for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Tsinghua University's establishment. We hereby give it to you as a token of our appreciation."
"Thank you, Professor Mao." Dai Li took the souvenir with both of his hands.
Tsinghua University had a special souvenir service department, which had been established by the Tsinghua University Foundation. This department sold all kinds of souvenirs from Tsinghua University, which featured a wide range of items that were of good quality, and of course, a high price. However, the money made in this department would be put towards the education of the poverty-stricken students attending Tsinghua University.
Dai Li had been to this department. He found stationaries like bookmarks, pens, and notebooks, small items like key chains and school badges, as well as postcards and high-end gift boxes.
What Professor Fang had given him was of course a high-end souvenir. Although Dai Li did not know what was inside the box, he knew the souvenirs for the 100th anniversary celebration were limited edition, and could not be bought by somewhat outside the school.
Beside them, Li Xue was also smiling. The master was proud of his apprentice's great achievement.
Li Xue's arrival at Tsinghua University was not just to take Dai Li back; he was hoping to recruit Sijie Yang, Guohong Niu, and Xiaotian Xin to the national team. He had even brought the special documents for the recruitment with him.
However, all three athletes were students of Tsinghua University. Therefore, Li Xue would have to come to an agreement with Tsinghua University before he could officially recruit them.
"Guohong Niu is already a senior student, and will graduate soon. We will respect his choice; If he is willing to join the national team and serve our country, he will have our full support."
Professor Fang paused for a moment, then continued, "As for Xiaotian Xin, he is a junior this year. We will also respect his decision regarding joining the national team. If he also chooses the national team, we could retain his student status and help him conduct the formalities regarding schooling suspension."
As a senior student, Guohong Niu could begin preparing for his future career, or he could start getting ready for the postgraduate entrance examination. Graduates of Tsinghua University were always in short supply in the job market, and could pass the postgraduate entrance examination easily.
If he could be admitted to the national team and became a professional athlete, it would also be a pretty good career choice for him. And if he could achieve good results in international competitions and win glory for the country, Tsinghua University would also gain a lot of respect.
Xiaotian Xin was still a junior, and would graduate after a year. However, the National University Games had just ended; there would be no large-scale university competitions before Xiaotian Xin's graduation. By the time the next large-scale race would be held, Xiaotian Xin would be preparing to graduate, which would make it almost impossible to participate in the competitions representing Tsinghua University. Because of this, it was meaningless for Tsinghua University to keep Xiaotian Xin. It was better for Tsinghua University to "give" him to the national team as a favor.
Professor Fang continued, "As for Sijie Yang, we can't make the decision for him. His father is Academician Lin Yang, who has won the Nobel Prize. Sijie Yang's joining our Sports Department was only made possible by Academician Lin Yang. Therefore, for this issue, you have to go to him and get his opinion. His academic position forces us to respect and obey all his decisions."
"OK, we will go to him!" Li Xue nodded and asked, "Where will we find him? The Chinese Academy of Sciences?"
"Academician Yang has his own laboratory, which is close to Tsinghua University. It's only a five minute drive when there's no traffic. I have his telephone number; you can call him in advance." Professor Fang took out his cellphone and looked through his contacts, then wrote down a telephone number on a piece of paper.
He handed the paper to Li Xue and said, "By the way—if you are going to meet Academician Yang, you'd better take your ID cards. Academician Yang's laboratory management is very strict. Their security guards are personnel from the national security department."
Li Xue and Dai Li drove to Lin Yang's laboratory.
"Coach, during the University Games, Yue Zhao's performance was also pretty good. Could he possibly return to the national team?" Dai Li asked.
"I know. Yue Zhao's result was also 10.42 seconds, and lost to Sijie Yang by a very small time difference." Li Xue went on, "But Yue Zhao is already twenty-six. Sijie Yang was able to achieve a time of 10.42 seconds at the age of nineteen—he is truly a prodigy. On the other hand, Yue Zhao can only be considered a very good athlete at his age. Moreover, Yue Zhao has received training from the national team already. He doesn't have enough potential left to be developed.
"Results are not the only standard the national team looks at when enrolling talents. Other factors have to be taken into consideration, and potential is one of the most important factors. After all, the training resources of the national team are limited. Most of the time, young athletes with potential get priority when it comes to resource allocation.
"Competition for the 100m sprint is very fierce. Young athletes with potential keep emerging. We just put Sijie Yang on our list, and even Guohong Niu from Tsinghua University could be better than Yue Zhao after 2 years of training with the national team. Even if Yue Zhao was admitted to the national team, he wouldn't have the chance to participate in competitions."
Li Xue stopped and sighed deeply. "I know you feel bad about what happened to Yue Zhao; I also sympathize with him. But we can't let our personal feelings affect our work. Because we are coaches, we are using resources provided by our country. We are developing athletes for our country! It is our official duty!"
Li Xue's words were becoming more and more sincere and earnest. He continued, "Dai Li, in the future, when you are in my position, or an even higher one, you will understand that your power comes with responsibility. Our country entrusts the power to you because our country trusts you; you must undertake this duty.
"Only those who are outstanding can be admitted to the national team, as ability is the deciding factor in competitive sports. We can't play favorites. Remember, this is our duty; business is business"
Dai Li was silent for several seconds. He really wanted to help Yue Zhao, but he also knew what Li Xue was saying was correct.
But Dai Li didn't give up. He said, "In his current condition, Yue Zhao would indeed have difficulty achieving good results in the 100m sprint; however, I think he could try the 200m sprint. By that, I mean he could specialize in the 200m sprint."
"Change to 200m sprint?" Li Xue looked at Dai Li. Dai Li's eyes were full of confidence.
"You seem to be very confident about this, is that right?" Li Xue asked.
"Yes, I think Yue Zhao is very well-suited for the 200m sprint. If he specializes in the 200m sprint, he will achieve better results! Furthermore, with his experience and technique, if he focuses on the 200m sprint, I believe he will surprise us in a very short time," Dai Li said.
There was one thing that Dai Li didn't tell Li Xue—the fact that during the university games, Dai Li had found all this out by detecting Yue Zhao.
Yue Zhao's gift in the 100m sprint was B-level, which was identical Guohong Niu; but at the same time, the detector also showed Yue Zhao's ability in the 200m sprint was a B+!
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