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On the first day of training, Dai Li taught Yue Zhao a lesson, which worked out extremely well. Yue Zhao learned that Dai Li had some true ability, so, in the following training session, he firmly implemented Dai Li's plan.
Training effectiveness depended not only on the coach's plans, but the athlete's implementation of those plans as well. No matter how perfect a coach's plan was, if the athlete didn't follow it, the plan would mean nothing.
From Feixiang Lin, to the shot put team, and now to Sijie Yang, Dai Li had met multiple athletes who trained in passively. Because of this, Dai Li had astonished Yue Zhao in the very beginning in an effort to impress and convince Zhao of his ability. As Dai Li had expected, the results were being shown on the track.
The first phase of the Asian Training Camp only lasted twenty days. During that time, athletes would have fierce competitions. As for the coaches that had been drafted from provincial teams, they were competing as well. Coaches at the primary level hoped to get noticed by the national team, and eventually be recruited. Even though they could not stay with the national team, as long as their abilities were showcased to the team and were accepted into the next phase of training camp, they still would have accomplished something.
Meanwhile, the national team was also observing both the athletes and the coaches. As time went by, training moved to more advanced levels, and the gaps between those who were good and those who were great gradually appeared.
Yue Zhao rushed cross the finishing line. Dai Li stopped the electronic timer in his hand.
"20.73 seconds. This is a manual timing mark. If we had used an auto-timer instead, which adds 0.24 seconds, your performance would still be less than 21 seconds," Dai Li said, "Since correcting the swing of your upper and lower forearms, your performance has improved significantly. Now you can run regularly finish in under 21 seconds."
For a 200m sprinter, the qualifying standard for National Sports Masters was 21.35 seconds. Normally, National Sports Masters were capable of going to the final round of the national athletics grand prix. Any score under 21 seconds would be enough to get a 200m sprinting championship in national level games.
Hearing that he had done well, Yue Zhao smiled. But Dai Li threw cold water on him, saying, "Don't think you can start taking it easy; you still shrugged your shoulders during your running. You must correct that behavior!"
"Understood. I will try not to do that again," Yue Zhao nodded. He then sighed with emotion. "I feel like I'm best suited for the 200m sprint."
"You have good control over your frequency and stride. The 200m sprint does fit you. If I had met you earlier, I would have let you try the 400m," said Dai Li.
"Forget about the 400m; it's running technique requirements are too high." Yue Zhao looked around, then said, "In the 200m, if I'm under 21 seconds, I can stay in the first phase, right?"
"Don't relax; the better your time, the slower you improve. If you want to go to the Asian Games, you have to amaze everyone," Dai Li said with helplessness, "You aren't even on the national team's radar."
Yue Zhao lapsed into silence. He knew what Dai Li meant. The qualifying standard for Yue Zhao to be admitted to the Asian Games was higher than the other athletes. He was not an original team member, but had been called up from the basic level.
It was easy to explain. For example, every team was in charge of a program. As the person responsible, the leader would definitely give the most important part of the program to their older team members, while newcomers would be one of the last people to get an opportunity. The leader would never give the key part to a newcomer, no matter how outstanding the person was.
Of course, if the newcomer was way better than the others, that individual would be highly valued. Say a three-star Michelin chef came to work in a three-star restaurant. Both were "three-star," but the chef could be found anywhere; there were only about sixty three-star Michelin restaurants around the world. Compared to a three-star Michelin Chief chef, chefs from ordinary restaurants were not even qualified to be handymen.
It was the same in athletics. If Yue Zhao's score was the same as the other team members on the national team, the leaders wouldn't send him to the Asian Games. Even if Yue Zhao was a little bit better than the others, he still would not get a chance; unless, however, Yue Zhao was far enough ahead of the other athletes. For instance, if the other athlete ran in 20.80 seconds, but Yue Zhao ran in 20.60 seconds. A 0.2-second gap was an irreversible distance for 200m sprinters, and was a dividing line between two levels. In this case, Yue Zhao could get the chance to represent the country in the Asian Games.
"There are several athletes on the national team who can run within 20.80 seconds. Jun Xie, the strongest runner, is an International Sports Master; he will take a place for sure. In addition, Zitao Wei is a 100m and 200m sprinter, and once participated in the Olympics, I assume he will take up another spot," Dai Li said, looking at Yue Zhao worriedly, "If you want to join them, you should at least reach the International Sports Master standard."
"International Sports Master, that's 20.62 seconds, isn't it?" Yue Zhao took a deep breath. His eyes shone with firmness.
"I will try to make it!"
Twenty days was not a lot of time, especially when people were busy training. Neither athletes nor coaches had time to think about other business. Time seemed to pass by even faster with competitions approaching.
On the training field, the first phase examination was about to begin. It decided the athletes' fate. Athletes with good performances would show up on the second phase training list, while people who performed poorly would pack up their belongings and leave.
People like Haiquan Fang, Sijie Yang, and Guohong Niu, who were already on the national team, did not need to worry about this test. Because they were already part of the team, they would not be eliminated. But athletes like Yue Zhao, who had come from basic levels, would unfortunately be the targets of elimination.
Yue Zhao crouched on the ground, carefully adjusting his starters.
The 200m starting line was on the bend of the track. Because of this, starters' locations were very important. Everyone had their own habits, so each pair of starters were placed at different locations with various angles. But generally, starters would be set on the right side of the tracks, fixed with a certain angle.
In the bleachers, Chief Coach Shuren Zhao had noticed Yue Zhao.
Yue Zhao used to be a high-flyer on our team. Had he not been misjudged, he would have already become our trump card. What a pity, Shuren Zhao said to himself regretfully. He is now focusing on the 200m sprint, which is a new path for him. However, the 200m sprint also has fierce competition! To be honest, I don't think he can win.
Being a professional athlete is not an easy job. 'A boat sailing against the current must forge ahead or it will be driven back,' as the saying goes. He wasted two years; I'm afraid it's going to be quite difficult for him to get back to where he once was. Before Shuren Zhao's voice faded away, the starting gun was fired.
When starting at the bend, sprinters were not on the same horizontal line. Runners on the inner tracks would be behind other sprinters, while sprinters on the outer tracks started out ahead. An ordinary audience would not be able to tell who was in the lead until all the runners were on the straight track.
For a professional, however, it was easy. Even when athletes were still on the bend, they could make a judgement immediately. Shuren Zhao looked at the eight runners, suddenly frowning. He realized the situation was not what he had predicted.
"Yue Zhao takes the lead!" said Shuren Zhao.
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