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Li Xue was pleasantly surprised; he had never expected Yue Zhao to be the champion.
Yue Zhao wasn't originally part of the national team's plan, and without Dai Li's vouching for him, he might not even have been admitted to the Asian Games Training Camp. The process of getting his final approval for the contest was full of ups and downs, and the argument for his participation was settled at the last minute, right before the deadline of registration.
But today, this underdog sprinter was the champion, which made Li Xue feel like he had hit the jackpot.
Yue Zhao's performance was 20.60 seconds, which was not very outstanding. He hadn't even reached the 20.59-second Olympic A-level standard. Based on an average performance at the Asian Games Champion, such a performance was something of a fluke.
Perhaps Yue Zhao was indeed very lucky. Aonaide and Jun Xie had dropped out before the race, and three of the favorites were incapacitated, Zitao Wei had a fever, so his ability was reduced greatly, and Zerafa wasn't used to racing in the rain, hence he didn't perform well. Due to these factors, Yue Zhao was able to snag a victory.
Since athletics focused on results, once a competition was finished, people only remembered the champions, not the process of the competition. Whether he had good luck or not, Yue Zhao was worthy enough to earn the Asian Games championship.
Besides, most of the time, luck was a part of one's victory. Sports matches were filled with uncertainties. Among so many games, one could win or be defeated by chance.
Looking at the podium, Li Xue smiled with satisfaction.
The national team had already gained two gold medals, for the 100m and 200m sprint, without realizing. The national team had previously planned to get one gold, but now they had exceeded their expectations.
Now we only have the relay final left! Thinking about this, Li Xue was stressed.
Zitao Wei still had a fever, but without taking any medicine, simply drinking more water and using cold compresses, he could hardly bring down the fever.
In the dead of night, the athletes had all fallen asleep, but the national team coaches were still gathered in the meeting room.
"Half an hour ago, a doctor took Zitao Wei's temperature, 102.5 Fahrenheit. Don't expect his fever to be gone tonight, it'll be a miracle if his temperature doesn't go higher." Li Xue paused, then said, "I'm not planning to put Zitao Wei in the relay race. Based on his current condition, he is not suitable for tomorrow's race."
"Then for the 4×100m relay race, won't we lack one participant? Shall we borrow an athlete from another event?" someone immediately asked.
Li Xue nodded. "So for today's meeting, I also invited Coach He from the long jump team. This time, we need to borrow an athlete from his team."
In athletic competitions, if a 4×100m relay race lacked athletes and needed to borrow athletes from other teams, the first option was not 110m hurdlers or 400m runners, but long jumpers.
Long jumping and sprinting shared much in common, and had similar physical requirements for the athletes. Both long jumping and sprinting required athletes to obtain extreme explosive force, while the run-up process in long jump needed athletes to acquire extreme speed.
Generally speaking, long jumpers were pretty good at sprinting, and the best long jumper's sprinting speed was even faster than ordinary sprinters; as for sprinters, as long as they attained long jump techniques, they could perform outstandingly.
In history, there was one who won world championships in both the long jump and 100m sprint.
Now that the 4×100m team was missing an athlete, the national team went to ask the long jump team to help without hesitation. Therefore, Li Xue had invited Coach He, who was in charge of the long jump team, to ask for advice.
Li Xue turned to talk to Coach He. "Coach He, we need your help now. Please recommend a suitable athlete for tomorrow's 4×100m relay race!"
"I think Haiquan Fang is the best man for the race. He has a nice physicality and strong explosive force. As for his speed, he's faster than all the other long-jumpers. Moreover, since Haiquan Fang just won the championship in the long-jump event, he's been in a confident mood. Old Xue, from my point of view, Haiquan Fang is the most suitable person." said Coach He.
Coach He was more than sixty years old, and had been rehired by the national team after retirement. He was years older than Li Xue, and was one of few on the national team who dared to call Li Xue "Ole Xue."
"I watched Haiquan Fang's competition. He did have outstanding explosive force while running. I agree, he's suitable," Li Xue said and turned to the crowd. "Any other ideas? Feel free to share your opinions, we can discuss together."
Nobody answered. Li Xue waited for a minute, and seeing no one disagreed, he continued himself. "Since no one is against this idea, we will have Haiquan Fang for the 4×100m relay race!"
Li Xue wrote down Haiquan Fang's name on the list in his hand, then said, "Yue Zhao, Sijie Yang, Guohong Niu, and Haiquan Fang. These are the four participants for tomorrow's relay final, but Haiquan Fang is a long jumper, so he's never experienced a 4×100m relay race. Therefore we need to give him special training. The final is at half past seven tomorrow night, which means that we still have time to prepare during the day."
As he spoke, Li Xue looked at the crowd. "One day for preparation, we're short on time, and the task is arduous. Who would like to try?"
The other coaches in the room kept looking at one another without saying a word.
In fact, everyone knew it was not a desirable task. To some degree, the coach who took this job would probably be made a scapegoat if something went wrong.
The 4×100m relay race not only required high speed, but team cooperation. Even if an athlete struggled to gain a 0.1 second lead, once another teammate dropped the baton, such a lead would no longer exist, or worse, the whole team would lag behind.
Normally, to develop cooperation, athletes needed to practice together for at least one to two weeks. It was impossible to develop cooperation within only one day.
Not to mention that in this team, there were three Asian Games champions. Sijie Yang was 100m sprint champion, Yue Zhao was the 200m sprint champion, and Haiqua Fang was the long jump champion.
Such a lineup would be awesome, at least in outsiders' eyes, so such a team would be favorable to win the championship. Just like in people's minds, by putting the world's four fastest runners in one team, that team would be the world champions of the 4×100m relay race.
But the fact was, this wasn't necessarily true. As mentioned before, the relay race relied heavily on team cooperation. Even if the national team sent a three-time first place squad, if they lacked cooperation, they might not even be able to medal, let alone win gold.
Therefore, to lead the relay race at this moment was like receiving a steaming hot potato; it looked nice but was difficult to handle. If the three-time champion squad won, to the public it would be just as expected, but if they failed, the coach would definitely be denounced.
Since the national team was the host team, the audience thought highly of them. Ordinary people only cared about the results, like whether the team won a gold or not, never caring about the professional background knowledge on the event! Many people even held the view that the relay race was only running to deliver a baton, nothing serious.
The coaches in the meeting room were all extremely quick-witted, how could they not know this? No one was willing to be unjustly blamed in the future, so when Li Xue raised the question of who wanted to take charge of the relay team, everyone began to play dumb.
Li Xue's face was dark. He looked at the crowd, regretting that they didn't meet his expectations. Everyone in the room was an outstanding coach for the national team, but at this crucial moment, nobody dared to stand out and shoulder the responsibility.
Right at that time, a voice suddenly rang from a corner. "Coach, may I have a try?"
Li Xue was so familiar with the voice that he could easily tell the speaker was Dai Li without even looking at the guy.
Dai Li had volunteered to coach the relay team!
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