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In the relay race, athletes had a staggered start, which meant that they were not starting from the same horizontal line. Athletes in inner lanes had their starting positions in the back, while runners in outer lanes had forward starting positions. To the ordinary audience, before the athletes entered the last 100m straightaway, they could hardly tell who was running faster.
Luckily, there was something called the exchange zone, which helped judge who ran faster. The distance from each athlete's starting line to the exchanging zone was the same, so whoever stepped into the exchange zone first was the faster runner. Likewise, athletes who left the zone first took the lead in the race.
Guohong Niu was the first to arrive at the exchange zone, which indicated that he was the fastest runner among the first legs. However, since he was the first leg, the national team's advantage was not obvious yet.
Sijie Yang had already been waiting for Guohong Niu at the edge of the exchange zone. When Guohong Niu was approaching the zone, Sijie Yang began running, and Guohong Niu rushed towards Yang's back.
The baton exchange process was the most vital part of the whole relay race, or rather, it decided whether a team would succeed or fail. If, unluckily, someone dropped the baton, the team would fail early. With any tiny mistake, any previous speed advantage would be erased.
Sijie Yang stretched his hand backward, and Guohong Niu passed the baton steadily into Yang's hand. Yang grasped the baton, rushing forward.
"Excellent, nice exchange!" Li Xue murmured. Guohong Niu and Sijie Yang's handoff was like floating clouds and flowing water—seamless and smooth, no time wasted.
Guohong Niu and Sijie Yang were schoolmates at Tsinghua University, so they've been training together for about two years. They have developed a nice relationship. Moreover, in the first exchange, Guohong Niu was in charge of passing the baton. Since he has no individual events and has been focusing on preparing for the relay, no wonder he had a better performance here.
Thinking about this, Li Xue pushed down the joy in his heart immediately. It was only the first exchange, the first step, that was completed successfully, but there were second and third exchanges that remained.
Thailand's national team chief coach Bassoon was anxious. Guohong Niu and Sijie Yang were cooperating well; it looked like they had been old teammates for one or two years. Although their teamwork was not as good as Thailand's relay team, whose bond had developed for four years, the two teams looked similar.
We didn't catch up much in the first round of baton exchanges! Bassoon's eyebrows furrowed. At the same time, Sijie Yang left the exchanging zone first, which meant that he was taking the lead at that moment.
Don't worry, they're just lucky. Besides, the first two athletes who were in the original relay team have been practicing together for a long time, so it makes sense that they cooperated well. The key point is the last exchange between the third and fourth sprinters. The fourth one is an experienced long jumper, so as long as he makes a mistake, we can make up at least 0.5 seconds! Basson comforted himself.
The second runner mainly ran on the straight track, and his running distance was the shortest among the four athletes.
Sijie Yang had won the championship three days ago, enhancing his presence in the field, so the audience all recognized him. When he received the baton, the whole audience all rose and cheered deafeningly loud for him.
The audience's reaction immediately stimulated Sijie Yang, who felt an upsurge of emotion, which brought him inexhaustible energy. He couldn't wait to release his power.
As the champion of the 100m sprint at this Asian Games, Sijie Yang again showed his outstanding talent. Judging by speed, Sijie Yang was the fastest in the national relay team. Normally, the fastest runner would be the last leg, while the second person was usually the weakest in the team.
However, due to the same reason that the national team had lost a participant, they had to ask Sijie Yang, despite being the best runner, to be the second leg. Like Tian Ji's horse racing strategy, Sijie Yang was a first-rate horse, while the other second runners were low-grade horses. The distinction was huge.
Hence, on the second curve, Sijie Yang easily created a clear gap. Even without using the exchange zone line as a measurement, people could tell Sijie Yang was in the lead.
While many audience members were still recalling the first exchange process, Sijie Yang had already entered the exchange zone, and Yue Zhao was the first to enter the zone.
Second exchange! Li Xue's heart was pounding again.
Sijie Yang and Yue Zhao were not schoolmates. Yue Zhao had been recruited by the national team after he joined the Asian Games Training Camp, and he had specialized in the 200m sprint, rarely interacting with Sijie Yang. Until one month before the Asian Games, when they began to prepare for the relay race, the two hadn't worked together.
Therefore, Li Xue knew that the teamwork between Sijie Yang and Yue Zhao wouldn't be as good as Sijie Yang and Guohong Niu.
Moreover, Guohong Niu had focused on practicing for the relay race, while Sijie Yang concentrated on the 100m sprint, so Guohong Niu would have better handoff skills than Sijie Yang.
I don't expect the second exchange to be as seamless as the first one, I only wish they don't make any big mistakes or waste too much time. Sije Yang has made a clear advantage, so we should be able to bear 0.2-second loss, Li Xue thought.
Meanwhile, the two athletes on the track began to pass the baton. Sijie Yang stretched his arm forward to pass the baton to Yue Zhao, while shouting "hold." Yue Zhao grasped the baton tight, then continued his running as the third leg.
The whole process happened extremely quickly, so fast that one couldn't not see the actions clearly without a fixed gaze at the the athletes' movements.
The baton exchange required the athletes to play it safe, but the faster, the better. The faster athletes exchanged it, the less time was spent on it, and the better the final time would be.
The exchange process between Sijie Yang and Yue Zhao was not as perfect as the previous one performed by Guohong Niu and Sije Yang, and the actions were rough, but the time it took was similar.
From the final results, as long as they hadn't taken too much time, handoffs were worth praising. It was like the same car, after installing leather seats and a surround sound system. Although the new equipment could produce a better driving experience, they didn't help increase speed at all.
"Awesome! Good job!" Li Xue involuntarily started clapping.
The first perfect baton exchange had brought Li Xue much joy, but the second exchange had been kind of outside of his expectations.
Sijie Yang and Yue Zhao were cooperating so well that it didn't look like they had only been working together for a month. On the contrary, they were like old friends.
Li Xue knew that in the relay preliminary, Yue Zhao and Sijie Yang hadn't had such nice "chemistry."
He couldn't help glancing at Dai Li by his side, but Dai Li looked indifferent.
When did Yue Zhao and Sijie Yang learn such good teamwork? They weren't like this yesterday in the relay preliminary. Was it because of Li's special training? Is it possible for them to have developed such a relationship in one day?
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