NG was short for the National Games, which was the highest and largest comprehensive sports event in the country. In addition to the martial arts project, the National Games were basically on the same level as the Olympic Games. There were even winter Olympic events in the early years such as skating.
Ordinary people probably would not pay much attention to the National Games. But for the Provincial Sports Bureaus, the National Games was only second to the Olympic Games.
Since the provincial training teams were not eligible to attend national sports games, the National Games became the highest stage they could ever see. Each Provincial Sports Bureau looked to the National Games to show off their achievements. Thus, the National Games was also nicknamed the Olympic Games in the sports world.
For athletes in the sports world, a gold medal in the National Games was second only to a world championship, especially for sports that were not as popular nor familiar to the public. If an athlete could win a gold medal in the National Games, he would be making contributions to their Provincial Sports Bureau, which meant that his or her career path would be a lot smoother, and that there would be a better position for him or her after retiring from sports.
These were the tangible benefits. For athletes who had no chance of seeing the Olympic stage, it was obviously worth it to try their best to show out in front of the leaders and solidify a good position for themselves after retirement.
In order to win a gold medal in the National Games, each of the Provincial Sports Bureaus applied all the strategies and tactics they had at their disposal. Drafting excellent athletes and coaches was the most basic of these strategies. Excellent athletes on national teams, professional clubs, or even overseas would be asked to attend the National Games.
Spending money was also useful. Especially in rich provinces, Provincial Sports Bureaus would set a high-level prize for a gold medal, nearly that of an Olympic championship. With a higher prize, the enthusiasm of the athletes would naturally be more profound.
Besides, spending money to poach excellent athletes from other provinces to attend the National Games was also a good way to enhance their own team in a short amount of time. For example, there was once a famous basketball player who had attended the National Games three times, and represented a different team each time. In the end, he walked away with a lot of money.
Headquarters for Hanbei Province's track and field team.
As the National Games began approaching, all the coaches started to gear up their training, hoping to achieve a good result in the competition.
The sprinting coach, Baojun Sha, walked into the dining hall, exhausted. He ordered several dishes he liked and devoured them. An entire afternoon of training had consumed a great deal of his physical strength. Right now even steamed bread with salted vegetables were a delicacy in his eyes.
"Baojun Sha, here, come here!" someone at the next table greeted Baojun Sha.
Baojun Sha turned around and saw two of his colleagues, Hua Liu and Guodong Li, who were both sprinting coaches.
How did Hua Liu and Guodong Li get together! Baojun Sha thought in doubt.
They were all sprinting coaches, but their relationships were not good at all. As the saying goes, "two people from the same trade can never agree." The three had always been in competitive on the track and field team.
The Hanbei Province track and field team had a vacant position as the group leader in the sprint training section, which was in charge of practical training. When someone got this position, he would have the opportunity to be promoted to the assistant head coach of the track and field team. Becoming a senior member on the team was getting a seat in a leadership position. Therefore, Baojun Sha, Hua Liu, and Guodong Li were all longing for this position.
Their differences in age were not significant, and both their qualifications and achievements were nearly the same. In order to get this position, they had all tried their best. It was because of this that their relationship with one another was not so good. They usually nodded at each other as a form of greeting, and never spoke to each other unless necessary. Even during group dinners that involved all their colleagues, they tried not to sit together.
Understandably, it was unbelievable that Hua Liu and Guodong Li were eating at the same table. Not only that, but now they had called Baojun Sha over to the eat with them. Baojun Sha was surprised.
He hesitated, but eventually carried his tray over to them. Before he could sit down, Guodong Li said, "Baojun Sha, you have really held some tough training sessions recently!"
Could it be possible that Guodong Li wants to find out my training schedule? Baojun Sha was distrustful and replied thoughtlessly, "It seems like you two have been doing some tough training too! Are you going to have yourself a big success at the National Games?"
"If so, you should be the group leader!" Hua Liu smiled and said, "I'm afraid there's no chance!"
"Hua Liu, opportunities depend on strength. You cannot attend the National Games just by talking." Baojun Sha thought Hua Liu had criticized him, so he was unhappy.
Hua Liu smiled ironically, "Sha, don't misunderstand me—I'm not talking about you."
Hua Liu's sneer disgruntled Baojun Sha. Baojun Sha said ironically, "Not talking about me? Could it be Guodong Li? I guess you were not talking about you, right?"
"Sha, I meant that none of us had a chance!" Hua Liu said.
"What did you mean, Hua Liu?" Baojun Sha sniffed.
"Sha, do you know? Dai Li is coming back," Guodong Li began to explain.
Dai Li? Who is Dai Li? The name sounds a little familiar! Baojun Sha said to himself.
Guodong Li leaned forward and lowered his voice. "The young coach who was selected from the youth team. The one who was taken away by the national team before he came to report in."
Baojun Sha suddenly remembered. "That guy! I knew him. Dai Li planned to attend the youth talent training program. He got lucky and was selected by Li Xue. Then he stayed with the national team. So? Is he coming back? I thought he would be directly transferred to the national team!"
"Dai Li was only on the national team temporarily before. Now that the National Games are coming, Coach Chu naturally wants him back." Guodong Li continued, "I heard that Coach Chu wants him to be the group leader!"
"Why! I've been on the team for almost ten years. Why him? Such a young guy wants to be the group leader! I don't even know him." Baojun Sha let all the anger he was feeling show on his face.
"It's because he can hold his position in the national team; because he is a proud disciple of Li Xue!" Hua Liu interrupted. These two reasons left Baojun Sha speechless, and unable to find any ground for defense.