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During the Snowstorm

13.3

Voice of Youth

39

Within a minute, the room's phone and Lin Yi Yang's mobile rang almost simultaneously. One call was from the women's team captain Lin Lin, and the other from Jiang Yang, who was about to return via the elevator. Both were reminding Lin Yi Yang to send people back. The national team had strict rules, especially during the Asian Games, forbidding all personal activities to avoid any potential issues.


In reality, both were stating the obvious. This was the Asian Games, and he was well aware of the gravity of the situation.


If he truly had no reservations, he wouldn't have answered the calls and would have continued doing whatever he pleased.


Lin Lin hung up after delivering her message. Jiang Yang, having managed a billiards club for many years, had developed a habit of worrying unnecessarily, still treating him like the young junior brother from their teenage years, talking non-stop.


In the past, Lin Yi Yang might have hung up early on.


But now, listening to Jiang Yang rambling on while smoking, Lin Yi Yang suddenly realized that having someone genuinely worry about him was a form of luck in this world.


"Do you understand what I'm saying?" Jiang Yang, noticing Lin Yi Yang's silence, asked impatiently.


"Are you done?" Lin Yi Yang replied.


"..."


"Once you're back, let's go check out the pool tables together," he suggested, "If we wait any longer, others might take them."


The third day of the competition schedule marked the official start of the billiards hall games.


The competition spanned three days, with ten events, and all matches, from the group stage to the finals, were completed in one go.


Men's and women's events were intermixed, and everyone had to gather together throughout the entire competition.


In the changing room, they swapped their national team uniforms for the standard competition attire for their respective sports. The men wore shirts and trousers, while the women donned their typical competition outfits. They retrieved their cue sticks, leaving the cue stick cases behind in the changing room.


Outside the rest area, Lin Yi Yang waited for everyone to assemble at the entrance to the competition venue. Before long, the team was complete.


In the front row, each of them had won championships in world open tournaments - Meng Xiaodong, Jiang Yang, Yin Guo, Lin Lin, Liu Xiran...


In the second row were the second-tier players - Li Qingyan, Wu Wei, Chen Anan, Fan Wencong, and others.


The head coach looked at all of them and smiled. "With everyone here having won gold medals in world open tournaments, there's no need to pretend or say anything just for the sake of it. Let's focus on the competition without unnecessary distractions. Lin Yi Yang, as the team captain, do you have anything to add?"


Lin Yi Yang pondered for a moment but realized there wasn't much he needed to rally them for.


In front of them were all the top-ranked players in the world. If this were the Olympics, they might need some encouragement and have to give their all. But for an Asian tournament, do they really need a pep talk before the match? It would be embarrassing if it got out.


The Chinese team has always been the first in gold medals and overall medals in the Asian Games. The billiards team rarely gets this opportunity, so they can't afford to mess up.


The head coach cleared his throat, feeling a bit awkward, and waved his hand. "Alright, let's go. It's time to go in and win those gold medals."


But as they took a few steps outside, something still didn't feel right. It was a rare occasion, and they needed to get fired up for it. The old coach, in his fifties, raised his right hand high and made a firm gesture. "We won't settle for anything less than first place in the gold medals! If we can't get it, all of you can go back to the country!"


Everyone cooperated and responded in unison, "Alright!"


With the fiery motivation ignited by the head coach, Team China entered the arena, each holding their cues.


The pathway was short, and within a few minutes, their vision widened.


To their surprise, the entire billiards hall was filled with people.


As the Chinese billiards team entered the arena during the pre-match break, the previously noisy and disorderly audience stood gradually hushed in awe. Hosting various open billiards tournaments was a rare occurrence in this city, and the presence of top-ranked players, including snooker and nine-ball stars, naturally drew fans from all over.


Led by their coach, Team China made their way to the rest area, exchanging greetings with the coaches from Singapore, Japan, and Korea.


"Now, everyone has noticed the arrival of our Chinese team in the rest area," the event commentator began with excitement, introducing today's formidable stars, "As you can see, this edition of the Chinese billiards team boasts a constellation of stars, including snooker players Lin Yi Yang, Meng Xiaodong, and Jiang Yang. All three have registered for multiple events at the Asian Games. Lin Yi Yang, in particular, has signed up for all five men's events, while Meng Xiaodong has registered for snooker, snooker team, and ten-ball events. Unfortunately, Jiang Yang underwent major surgery just three months ago, and he has only registered for the snooker team event in this Asian Games, which is quite regrettable."


"Moving on to the women's team, seated on the far left is Yin Guo, the rising star who ranked third in last year's World Artistic Nine-Ball rankings and recently secured the championship at the Nine-Ball All-American Open in April. Next to her is Liu Xiran, who is even more extraordinary, having just clinched the championship at the World Artistic Nine-Ball Championships and the runner-up position at the All-American Open."


"Sitting beside them is the once-retired Lin Lin, a formidable player who cannot be ignored. She made a comeback for this Asian Games and will be competing in the Six-Red Snooker and Nine-Ball Team events..."


***


With each name mentioned, the audience responded with cheers and excitement.


In the small billiards hall, waves of cheers swept through the stands.


Everyone has already entered the mindset for the group stage.


Yin Guo has three events, and she already feels that three consecutive days of competition from the group stage to the finals without a break will be quite challenging. Not to mention Lin Yi Yang, who is practically playing non-stop for three days...


Thankfully, he has strong partners in each event. Even if he makes a mistake, his teammates are there to cover for him, so they won't lose the gold medal.


In snooker, Meng Xiaodong led the way;


In ten-ball, once again, it's Meng Xiaodong who shines;


For eight-ball, we have the talented Li Qingyan taking charge;


And in the snooker team event, Meng Xiaodong partners with Jiang Yang.


Now, when it comes to nine-ball, it's none other than the former Newcomer King who was valiantly defeated by Yin Guo in a fierce match. Of course, he's the young man who used to be quite unruly towards Lin Yi Yang but has now been tamed during the seventy-day training camp.


On the first day, all matches took place in the group stage.

Then, on the second day, at three o'clock in the afternoon, the billiard hall witnessed the first gold medal, and it was no surprise: the men's 9-ball gold medal.


"It's Lin Yi Yang! Lin Yi Yang, who registered for all five events, has smoothly secured the first gold medal! Congratulations to Lin Yi Yang for his victory in the men's 9-ball event!"


"9-ball used to be Lin Yi Yang's main event, and he won this gold medal with ease! In the Asian region, there's simply no competitor who can match him."


"At this very moment, on the other side of the hemisphere, a large number of Lin's 9-ball fans are watching this event live!"


The commentator's voice echoed through the venue, and the birth of the first gold medal brought forth a wave of cheers in the sports hall.


Another Chinese player from the team reached the semi-finals.


On the award podium, Lin Yi Yang stood alone, occupying the highest position, graciously receiving the gold medal placed on him by the organizers.


As the first gold medal for billiards in the Asian Games, Lin Yi Yang returned to the rest area and was immediately surrounded by reporters. He remained composed in front of the camera, knowing this was just the beginning of the excitement.


"Women's 9-ball is our strongest event," he said during a brief interview, skillfully redirecting the focus to the women's 9-ball category, "Believe me, both the gold and silver medals will belong to us."


As Lin Yi Yang had predicted.


At 3:15 in the afternoon, the entire arena erupted in applause once again as the second gold medal was secured.


Liu Xiran, the 34-year-old veteran of Chinese billiards who had retired and made a comeback, clinched the women's 9-ball gold medal, while her teammate, Yin Guo, proudly claimed the silver.


Yin Guo rushed over to the other side of the table and embraced the champion with a big hug. Her hand gripping the cue stick was covered in sweat, and her eyes were beaming with smiles. "It's well-deserved; you deserve winning the gold medal!" she congratulated.


Tears welled up in Liu Xiran's eyes, and she couldn't hold them back. They streamed down her cheeks. As someone who had been retired for several years, she had feared that she might not perform well upon returning to the competition arena. However, she had proven her capability every step of the way, even surpassing her past achievements. "Thank you... Thank you so much."


"You must not retire next year," Yin Guo joked in a hushed voice, "I'll be waiting to compete with you. Let's win the World Championship and the Asian Games together."


"Deal! I'll be waiting for you to achieve that!" Liu Xiran replied with tears in her eyes, nodding with a smile.


Yin Guo took a step back, allowing the champion to bow to the audience in celebration of her first gold medal.


As soon as Liu Xiran stepped down from the podium, the first person she hugged was Jiang Yang, her old friend who had provided her with the greatest support. "Thank you for letting me stay and train in Dongxin City all this time," she said. Jiang Yang smiled and patted her back, saying, "You're welcome; we're all family."


Ten minutes later, Yin Guo stood on the podium to receive her silver medal, with Liu Xiran, a head taller, standing beside her in the top spot as the champion.


As Yin Guo looked from a distance, she could see Lin Yi Yang standing in front of the team, watching her. In the blink of an eye, he gave her a thumbs-up with a handsome smile.


With two gold medals in 9-ball, the Chinese team had made a splendid start to the competition.


From then on, medals kept pouring in.


At 6:39 PM, the Chinese team secured a silver medal in the Women's 8-ball event.


At 8:00 PM, they added another bronze medal in the Women's 10-ball event.


At 8:40 PM in the evening, it was time for the Men's 6-red Snooker final. The stadium buzzed with excitement as the players entered the arena. Among them was Lin Yi Yang. This formidable snooker player from China is ready to compete for yet another gold medal.


Lin Yi Yang ultimately secured the gold medal in the Men's 8-ball event.


This marked his second gold medal of the day, and as he stood on the podium once again, the spectators in the arena all stood up to congratulate him, regardless of whether they were there specifically to watch his matches. The entire audience applauded his second individual gold medal.


This was the final gold medal of the day and the last award ceremony.


After his first victory in the 9-ball event, he had to continue playing and didn't have the opportunity to change his clothes. However, this time, he had already prepared by changing back into the unified team uniform of the Chinese delegation. He walked back alone from the corridor, and Li Qingyan, who had won the bronze medal, noticed that he had changed his clothes and put his sportswear on top of his shirt. Despite the air-conditioned arena, the high summer temperatures still made them sweat profusely.


Lin Yi Yang walked up to Li Qingyan and gave him a friendly smile. "Not bothered by the heat?"


"This is a rare occasion," Li Qingyan smiled back, "I'm all good."


Li Qingyan was originally a snooker player, but with three tough opponents on the team, he had no chance to compete in snooker. Instead, he decided to participate in the qualifying rounds for the 8-ball event. Unexpectedly, he managed to win a bronze medal.


With all the competitions of the day concluded- the winners and losers of five events had already been determined.

In the resting area, everyone was relaxed. Yin Guo rubbed her arms and shoulders, waiting to see him stand on the awards podium again. Suddenly, a gold medal was placed around her neck—it was Lin Yi Yang's first 9-ball gold medal.


As a playful gesture, he gently pinched her cheeks and held up one finger, indicating that this was his first gold medal, and soon he would be going to claim his second.


Her man was on his way to his peak.


Wearing his sports uniform, Lin Yi Yang followed the staff to the awards podium. He stepped up to the highest spot, and then a male player from Hong Kong took second place. Li Qingyan eventually stood in third place on the podium. Lin Yi Yang, clad in his Team China sports uniform and sneakers, stood with his hands behind his back and slightly bowed. The organizers placed a gold medal around his neck. The other player smiled and patted Lin Yi Yang's shoulder, saying, "I am looking forward to your performance tomorrow."


Tomorrow, it's snooker singles and snooker team events, which are Lin Yi Yang's other main events.


Lin Yi Yang smiled and nodded.


From having a single-sided flag to now having a double-sided flag.


Standing on the awards podium alongside Li Qingyan, he watched the flag slowly rise over the venue, listened to the national anthem echoing through the stadium, and thought of a sentence his teacher once said:


"We started late, really late. Just look at how other countries' sports programs have developed."


And another sentence:


"Xiaoliu, don't fall behind. Your journey is still long."


***


That evening, Lin Yi Yang posted a new update on his social media. It featured a photo of the two gold medals he had won that day, placed side by side on the Chinese team's uniform, with the caption - "A gift for my mentor, He Wenfeng."

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