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During the Snowstorm

13.4

Voice of Youth

33

That evening, Lin Yi Yang's old injury flared up, and he sought urgent treatment from the team doctor.


On the third day, the final day of competition in the billiards hall, the morning started with the Men's Snooker Singles event.


Lin Yiyang and Meng Xiaodong defeated their fellow Asian competitors in their respective group matches and successfully met in the final to compete for the gold medal. As the two stood by the table tennis table, ready to vie for the championship, Jiang Yang, watching from below, couldn't help but remark with a sense of irony, "If I hadn't undergone surgery, these two wouldn't have had such an easy time." Coming from someone else, such a statement might sound like boasting, but from Jiang Yang, it was indeed true.


After saying this, Jiang Yang still felt a sense of regret for not being able to participate in the singles snooker event at the rare opportunity of the Asian Games. He turned to Li Qingyan, who also didn't have the chance to compete, and asked, "Hey, do you think if the three of us hadn't retired, you would never have had the chance to stand on this stage in your lifetime?"


Not satisfied with just that, he added, "Our career lifespan in this field is too long, with people retiring in their forties. I really think your chances were slim."


***


Fan Wencong, not quite understanding the situation, whispered to Wu Wei, "Does this guy have some grudge against him?"


Wu Wei smiled wryly and replied in a hushed tone, "This guy was once close to Yin Guo. They seemed to have had a thing for a while, and he even pursued her. Don't you remember? It was last year at a hotel in New York. Meng Xiaodong mentioned it."


"Oh... it's him."


No wonder that's why Jiang Yang showed some restraint in his remarks.


At 10 a.m., the first gold medal of the day in Men's Snooker Singles unexpectedly went into Meng Xiaodong's hands.


Meanwhile, Lin Yi Yang narrowly missed the victory and settled for the silver medal.


Although Meng Xiaodong has a higher world ranking in snooker than Lin Yi Yang, it is widely known among commentators and fans that he has not been in top form this year.


In fact, from the beginning of the final match, Meng Xiaodong already sensed that Lin Yi Yang was finding it increasingly challenging to secure victories.


In such large-scale international events, with so many eyes watching the live broadcast, Lin Yi Yang couldn't afford to slack off even if he was struggling. Otherwise, he might be criticized for "match-fixing."


Fortunately, the team doctor had informed the organizing committee in advance during his treatment yesterday, which served as a warning in case of any issues.


Despite the recurrence of his old injury, Lin Yi Yang gave his all and managed to complete the snooker final. Unfortunately, his efforts took a toll, and the injury worsened in the afternoon.


After lunch, Lin Yi Yang's shoulder had swollen significantly, and he had to apply ice throughout the process while waiting for his turn to compete.


Under normal healthy conditions, Lin Yi Yang could have put up a fight against his opponents. However, in his current state, his arm was completely deprived of strength, making the gap between him and the competitors apparent. From the start of the third set, he occasionally switched the cue to his other hand to alleviate the pain.


Although Lin Yi Yang didn't show any signs of enduring intense pain on his face, the Chinese team was well aware that their captain hadn't been feeling well since last night.


Lin Yi Yang's opponent also noticed this and softly asked him in English, "Are you okay?"


Lin Yi Yang shook his head and replied in English, "I'm hanging in there."


During a break in the game, the concerned referee approached Lin Yi Yang and inquired, "Do you have any issues, or do you need to pause the match?"


Lin Yi Yang shook his head, declining any assistance. He was well aware of his old injury, and taking a break was not an option unless he chose to withdraw from the competition. However, having made it to the semi-finals, he didn't want to miss this opportunity.


He left the competition area and returned to the Chinese team's resting area. Without even having time to take a sip of water, he was already standing shoulder to shoulder with Jiang Yang, attentively watching the ongoing match.


"Fortunately, you made it to the finals," Jiang Yang said, offering a smile of encouragement. "The gold medal should be within reach, right?"


"I don't know," Meng Xiaodong replied honestly, "it's not my main event."


Jiang Yang nodded, understanding the situation.


"It's a good thing that 10-ball is not our strong suit," Wu Wei added, joining the conversation. "Otherwise, he would definitely face criticism."


"No need to think about it; people would say things like 'wasting a spot' and so on," Wu Wei continued, acknowledging the potential backlash.


Fortunately, this event was not one where China had a high chance of winning, and there were no strong competitors.


Yin Guo couldn't take her eyes off the live screen.


Lin Yi Yang picked up his cup, took a sip of water, and placed it back on the table.


However, as he reached for his cue stick, he felt that something was off with his arm. He apologetically explained to the referee that his shoulder wasn't feeling well and asked if he could take off his vest.


With the referee's approval, he swiftly took off the black vest.


Lin Yi Yang handed the vest to the head coach and returned to the side of the pool table, now wearing a white shirt.


He took a deep breath, using his left hand to pick up a light pink chalk, and began rubbing it on the tip of his cue stick...


In truth, he was struggling to regain some form.


With a determined breath, he skillfully pocketed two balls in a row.


Only the 10-ball remained on the table, and if he pocketed it, he would win the game.


He pulled back his cue stick slowly, his shoulder severely affecting the movement of his arm. Nevertheless, he managed to strike the cue ball, the faint sound of impact audible only to him as it flew and collided with the 10-ball.


In that split second of impact, he probably already knew—it was a close shot.


In the end, the 10-ball hit the bottom of the pocket but bounced out.


A collective gasp filled the venue.


Such a pity that the last ball didn't go in.


Lin Yi Yang essentially handed over the ticket to the finals that was within his grasp, graciously giving it to his opponent.


He knew he had given his all, so he stood up and walked over to the Indian player, extending his right hand and congratulating him in advance on winning the match.


The Indian player smiled and firmly shook his left hand, saying, "It's an honor."


"It's an honor," he replied with a smile.


The entire audience applauded because of this handshake.


Then he took two steps back and watched as his opponent pocketed the 10-ball.


After the match, Lin Yi Yang returned to the resting area.


***


With one hand, he unbuttoned a few buttons and received emergency ice treatment with the help of the team doctors. Surrounded by two doctors and the head coach, his shirt was fully opened, exposing his upper body within the circle of the Chinese team. He sat there quietly, allowing the team doctors to care for him.


Yin Guo, standing behind the doctors, looked at him with concern.


As if sensing her gaze, Lin Yi Yang raised his head, scanned the surroundings, and finally found Yin Guo. He shook his head slightly, indicating that he was okay.


Ten minutes later...


The event organizers notified Lin Yi Yang that he was scheduled to participate in the bronze medal match for the 10-ball event. After discussing with the head coach, they realized that with only a 10-minute break, there was no way he could compete without risking further damage. Lin Yi Yang and the head coach unanimously decided to withdraw from the 10-ball event to preserve his performance in the evening's snooker team event.


Assisted by the team doctors, he began buttoning up his shirt, tucking it back into his trousers. Yin Guo's hands gently took over as he was about to fasten his belt. She helped him buckle the metal clasp and smoothed out his shirt after he got up from the seat.


In the audience's gaze, Lin Yi Yang walked to the center of the arena and solemnly bowed in apology.


"Unfortunately, Lin Yi Yang's old injury resurfaced, and he could only make it to the semi-finals in the 10-ball event," the commentator said with regret, "Let's hope he can recover in time and return to the men's snooker team event in the evening."


***


Ultimately, the men's 10-ball gold medal went to the Indian team.


Meng Xiaodong secured the silver medal.


At four o'clock in the afternoon, the women's 6-red snooker gold medal was won by the Hong Kong, China team.


Lin Lin secured a silver medal.


Yin Guo's journey to the semi-finals was a pleasant surprise, considering she was a newcomer brought in to fill the quota and had to undergo intensive training. It was quite different from players like Lin Lin, who had been playing snooker and 9-ball since childhood.


After her match, Yin Guo returned to the rest area and took a seat next to Lin Yi Yang.


Lin Yi Yang was wearing his team uniform, but his upper body was exposed as he applied ice packs, preparing for the final team event.


"Are all of you from Dongxin City skilled in both snooker and 9-ball?" Yin Guo chatted with Lin Yi Yang, trying to ease the pressure. "That's impressive."


Lin Yi Yang smiled and playfully ruffled her hair. "I'll teach you when we return and when you visit Dongxin City next time."

"Okay," Yin Guo replied with a smile.


China continued to dominate on the continuously updated gold medal and overall rankings, just as it had in previous editions of the games.


"The weightlifting team has swept all the gold medals again," the head coach sighed with regret, "we are still weak in comparison."


All eyes turned to the head coach, curious why he didn't compare us to the diving team. After all, they not only swept all the gold medals but also earned perfect 10s, leaving the audience in awe.


The head coach kept refreshing the rankings on his device and also scrolled through several social media platforms.


"Oh, take a look at this," the head coach said, showing everyone the latest post he had just found. "Our team captain had a wardrobe malfunction."


Incredibly, a fan had been quick enough to capture the moment when Lin Yi Yang took off his shirt to apply ice to his injury and uploaded it online. Jiang Yang glanced at the photo and teased, "Did you know you were unintentionally showing off your well-trained muscles like this?"


Lin Yi Yang understood that everyone was just engaging in playful banter to ease the pressure, so he didn't say anything and simply let them have their fun.


He assessed his condition and requested some painkillers from the team doctor, which he swallowed with a sip of bottled water. His mind was already focused on the evening's matches, as only two team events were left: Men's Snooker Team and Women's 9-Ball Team.


Yin Guo, Lin Lin, and Liu Xiran weren't too worried about missing out on that gold medal.


"Women's 9-ball is China's strongest event, and with the three of them together, there's no need to worry," Lin Yi Yang replied, trying to sound optimistic.


"The challenge lies with the three of us big guys," Jiang Yang added with a hint of concern.


"With my recurring injury, Jiang Yang's recent surgery, and Meng Xiaodong's unstable condition, none of us are in our best form," Lin Yi Yang continued, acknowledging the tough situation they were facing.


Jiang Yang walked up to Lin Yi Yang and asked in a relaxed tone, "How are you feeling? Can you make it through the whole match?"


Lin Yi Yang nodded, gritting his teeth, and said he would be fine but couldn't use his full strength. "My arm feels weak."


"That's a coincidence," Jiang Yang chuckled, "I'm the same way. My arm doesn't have much power." But there's nothing to be done about it. The younger players behind them weren't up to the task, and even Li Qingyan was only in the top twenty, not qualified enough to compete in the Asian Games.


Both of them turned their gaze to Meng Xiaodong, who was the only one in good health. He felt like they were trying to put pressure on him, and dealing with these two from Dongxin City, he'd rather be their opponent.


Being their teammate... he didn't feel completely at ease.

Jiang Yang patted Meng Xiaodong's shoulder with a serious tone, "Both Lin Yi Yang and I have objective injuries, but your problem is subjective and psychological. Overcoming it all depends on you."


Meng Xiaodong remained silent for a moment and then nodded.


The next main force was up to him now. Lin Yi Yang, the sixth member of Dongxin City, had already contributed the most, and it was time for the sixth member from Beijing, Meng Xiaodong, to step up to the challenge.

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