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That night, Feixiang Lin tossed and turned restlessly on his bed. Dai Li's words kept popping into his mind, and kept striking his heart like a needle. All his years of experience were flashing back in his mind.
He had met Coach Ding Jihai for the first time when he was a member of the long jump team of a sports school. This encounter had changed his entire life. It was at that moment that he began training for the 110m hurdles.
When he was sixteen, he took part in the 110m hurdles in the National Track and Field Compet.i.tion for the first time. He came in fourth place.
When he was seventeen, he took part in an international compet.i.tion for the first time, and won third place. He stood on the prize-winning platform. This was the best finish a Chinese athlete had ever gotten in a short-distance dash compet.i.tion.
When he was eighteen-years-old, he won first prize in the University. Later, he would always win the championship in every compet.i.tion he took part in. At the time, he thought he had been born to be a champion.
Finally, he recalled the time taken part in the Olympics, and gotten the gold medal. When interviewed by the journalists, he had said proudly, "they said that an Asian man could never win a gold medal in the short-distance dash. Well, I did it! I have proved them wrong!" In that moment, he had become a hero in every Chinese person's heart.
But winning the Olympic gold medal was only the beginning of his climax of his sports career. Soon after, he managed to climb to the highest mountain in the world of the short-distance dash; he broke the world record.
Feixiang Lin turned over. All these glorious episodes of his life kept replaying before his eyes, and he became more and more nostalgic.
He remembered how it felt to be a champion, even though he had not tasted the feeling in such a long time. It did not matter, because he was born a champion.
"You are an athlete, and an athlete belongs on the field."
"You have already created a miracle, why not try and create another one!?"
"If you have lost faith, no one can help you, not even G.o.d!"
Dai Li's words kept popping into Feixiang Lin's mind.
"Champion!" Feixiang Lin knew he had been longing for the t.i.tle of champion. Although he was benumbing himself by leading a befuddled life, he was still missing the feeling he had once had when he would jump over hurdles on the field and stand on top on the prize-winning platform.
"What on earth have I been doing the last two years! I am such an idiot, I have wasted an entire two years!" Feixiang Lin suddenly stood up and touched his right leg, pressing his injured Achilles tendon.
"It does not hurt anymore." Feixiang Lin calmed down. He did not seem confused anymore, and suddenly became quite determined.
"I cannot give up. I have to put up a fight!"
It was 7:50AM. Dai Li had arrived at the training center ten minutes early.
He was neither the first one nor the last one to arrive to the training center. Most coaches and athletes would arrive around this time, except for Feixiang Lin, who always came after 9 o'clock.
Dai Li looked at the gate. He was not sure if what he had said yesterday had worked or not, but there was one thing he was sure of: the manipulation rehabilitation worked.
The manipulation rehabilitation was like a stepping stone. It could help Feixiang Lin be as good as he once was, but the most important thing was for him to take the first step to get back to where he once was. If he continued behaving like he had been before their conversation, like showing up late for training or leaving early to go out and enjoy the nightlife, then even the manipulation rehabilitation would not help him.
Dai Li was waiting nervously. It was almost 8 o'clock. As time pa.s.sed, he became more and more anxious.
"Maybe Feixiang Lin is reluctant to give up his befuddled life. Maybe he had second thoughts and felt that it was to not give up his current lifestyle. He had already made hundreds of millions of yuan, and was already a billionaire. How could he possibly come back to the tough and compet.i.tive field! What was the point of curing his leg if he was someone who was indulging in his luxury and easy life? Am I supposed to help an athlete who has no desire to do better?"
Dai Li sighed as he thought about this. Just as he was about to turn around, he saw a familiar figure approaching in the distance.
"Feixiang Lin!" Dai Li finally smiled. He had gotten the answer he had wanted.
"Look, it is Feixiang Lin!"
"You must be wrong. It is not even 9 o'clock, how could he be here already?"
"The training has not begun yet. How could he possibly be on time for the training today?"
"I think he will be on time when pigs fly! Is this really the Feixiang Lin I know?"
Everyone began to talk about this in a low voice. Everyone looked at Feixiang Lin together. At the same time, Coach Ding Jihai looked much kinder than before.
Feixiang Lin walked over to Dai Li and was going to speak to him, but Dai Li asked him before he could say a word, "Have you thought things through?"
Feixiang Lin nodded earnestly and said, "Dai Li—no. Coach Li, please help me!"
"Are you sure? Once you have made your decision, you can never go back to a befuddled and comfortable life. You have to be strict with yourself, which means you have to eat and rest regularly. As long as you are awake, you must be training. The same endless and boring training, again and again, and cannot go to the Champion Restaurant." Dai Li wanted to make sure Feixiang Lin knew what he was getting himself into.
"I know how it is. I have lived this kind of life before. The training is tough and tiring, but fulfilling. That is the life I am used to. I can see my value in that life, and that is my real life! Right now I am like the walking dead, who knows nothing besides eating, drinking, playing, and having fun. This is not the life I want," Feixiang Lin said. "So please help me!"
Looking at Feixiang Lin's serious face, Dai Li smiled and said, "Take off your shoes. I will do the manipulation for you!"
Once again, Feixiang Lin experienced the magic of the manipulation rehabilitation.
"I feel like my leg has not felt this relaxed for almost a year. If you keep doing this, I think there is a great chance that I can be as good as I was before. How marvelous this is! I have been ma.s.saged by so many ma.s.seuses. The heads of the top three hospitals and the professor of the Medical University have all tried, but compared to you they are so much worse!" Feixiang Lin said.
Dai Li laughed. The manipulation rehabilitation itself went against science, so the heads of the hospitals and university professors could never be as good as he was, even if they spent their entire lives practicing.
Feixiang Lin tried to take a few steps and jump a few times. He felt much better. He said, "Let's start the training now. I cannot wait to be as good as I was before!"
"I do not think it is the best time to start training. I understand your feelings, but haven't you realized that you have become a bit too fat to be an effective athlete?" Dai Li pointed his belly.
Feixiang Lin used to have a six-pack of abdominal muscles. As an athlete of the short-distance dash, his body fat percentage had to be below 10%. However, after two years of laziness, he had become too fat, and was not that slim or strong anymore.
Feixiang Lin was a bit embarra.s.sed and touched his belly. He probably knew that he would have to lose weight.
Dai Li said, "You are the world champion of the hurdles. As for the training technique for the hurdles, you know better than I do. But I am the expert in losing weight. You should do a set of slimming exercises first. I will try to make you lose two pounds today."