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Yue Zhao, as a 26-year-old and experienced athlete, was a newbie in the Asian Games arena.
Warming up, adjusting his starting blocks, and getting ready for the race, Yue Zhao made his preparations step by step. It looked like he was pretty calm, but actually, inside, his heart was leaping.
"The finals in the Asian Games!" Excitement flashed across Yue Zhao's eyes.
Months ago, Yue Zhao never thought that he could attend the Asian Games, but today, he was standing right there in the arena, preparing for the 200m final.
Yue Zhao closed his eyes. He recalled his painful past.
"That misdiagnosis wasted three years of my time. Now I'm 26, and in only one or two years, I'll retire."
Thinking about his inevitable retirement, Yue Zhao suddenly felt painful. He stared at the track in front of him, unwilling to leave. A soft expression appeared on his face.
"I should give myself something to be proud of!" Yue Zhao felt that he was forced to stand and fight.
He stood on the starting blocks, put both hands on the ground to steady his body, and recalled technical details in his mind.
He was solely concentrated on receiving the signal from the starting gun.
Bang! The crisp sound of the gunshot greeted Yue Zhao's ears. At the same time, he leapt forward.
At once, the auditorium was boiling with excitement. Various kinds of cheering made lots of noise, but the noise sounded like drums on the battlefield to Yue Zhao.
Yue Zhao ran along the left side of the track, trying hard to increase his speed.
Due to his starting position, he couldn't see the other participants on his left, nor did he know whether anyone was catching up to him or not. His only thought was to run faster.
Beside him, Zerafa from the United Arab Emirates looked uncomfortable, his movements not as smooth as usual.
On Zerafa's left, Japanese sprinter Yamamoto Kazuhiko also put pressure on Zerafa. Yamamoto Kazuhiko was not very tall, but he had a high stride frequency. Since it was raining, every time Yamamoto stepped on the ground, he splashed, disrupting Zerafa's rhythm.
"Stupid rain!" Zerafa swore to himself. He knew he wasn't performing well, especially in the curve, which he ran poorly.
When he entered onto the straightaway, Zerafa realized that he was only in fourth. Although he wasn't falling behind much, he couldn't accept defeat at all. He was there to win, how could he be in fourth?
Zerafa quickly adjusted himself. In the second half of the race, he needed to turn the tide.
Running on the straightaway was way easier than the curve, so now that they were in the second half of the race, Zerafa's advantages as a black athlete showed.
Yamamoto Kazuhiko specialized in the 400m, so he might have had nice curve techniques, but he definitely lacked explosive force that the 100m sprinters had. On the straightaway, Zerafa caught up to him, and he immediately fell behind.
Within only thirty meters, Zerafa went from fourth to second place. His next goal was to overtake Yue Zhao on his right.
At that second, Zerafa suddenly realized, the one in the lead was the athlete from the hosting country that he had never heard about.
"Who would have thought he was the last one I needed to beat!" Zerafa thought, but he didn't slack, rushing foward.
Thirty meters before the finish line, Zerafa was about to catch up with Yue Zhao.
Zerafa was really worthy of being one of the tournament favorites, as he indeed had the upper hand. Even when his performance was restricted by the weather, his speed was still faster than the other sprinters.
Yue Zhao had already noticed the figure on his left making a dash for the finish line. That guy was running pretty fast. In the blink of an eye, that man had caught up and was now running side by side next to him.
Yue Zhao glanced at Zerafa. For some reason, Zerafa's skin color was extremely different and conspicuous.
In that second, disintegrated images flashed across Yue Zhao's mind. In a dilapidated and disordered city slum, where motley graffiti on the wall looked more like the shadow of the devil, curses rose one after another to join the shining lights.
Late at night, Yue Zhao left work and was walking down a dim path. Suddenly, two figures showed up. Two black youth blocked his way, knives in their hands.
The knives were glinted with a bloodcurdling coldness. Yue Zhao had figured out what they wanted from him.
"Money! Money!" The two bullies were worried about the Asian guy's English, so they kept repeating the word "money" while gesturing like they were counting dollars.
However, at that time, Yue Zhao was a poor guy who could barely feed himself, let alone have spare cash in his pocket!
He was filled with helplessness and fear. He kept swearing in his head, asking why life was so unfair, why should he suffer from such pain?
In the next second, Yue Zhao chose to flee. He had used to be a sprinter, since running was the thing he was best at. The two bullies were unwilling to let their victim escape, and immediately chased after Zhao.
That night, Yue Zhao was in the lead, with the two bullies in hot pursuit after him. The situation was exactly the same as he was currently in!
Today, Yue Zhao was making a slight advance on the track, while Zerafa was right behind him. The difference was that that night, Yue Zhao was escaping for his life, while today, he was fighting to win a competition.
To Yue Zhao, his days in America were the darkest days in his life. He was not willing to recall those painful memories.
But today, for some reason, those memories came into his mind unbounded.
He couldn't bear to think of the past, but once he had, he converted his grief and indignation into strength, pushing him forward.
Yue Zhao felt like he was fleeing again, and Zerafa was the bully threatening him with his knife in hand!
Right at this moment, Yue Zhao ran faster. He was back to that painful moment when he was struggling to escape from the bullies, but the current him wasn't only trying to escape from bad guys, but also the darkest moments of his past!
He wanted to get rid of the dark times, he wanted to let bygones be bygones!
His previous experience was a massive source of motivation for him. His strength instantly broke out, his speed becoming faster and faster. He was a phoenix approaching nirvana, shining as brightly as he ever had in his life.
Whoosh! Yue Zhao crossed the finish line. Until he exited at the end of the track, he didn't remember that he was still in a race at the Asian Games.
"The champion of the Asian Games!" He finally became conscious of where he was, but he couldn't believe it. After being in a complete daze for seconds, he confirmed that he had won the event at the Asian Games.
He knelt on the ground and burst into tears.
What he had experienced in the past, so many years of grievance, humiliation, and helplessness, all was vented at this moment.
"It's time to say goodbye to the old days!" a voice rang in Yue Zhao's mind. At this point, the knots in his heart were completely untied.
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