Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Men's 62 kilograms Group B.
"Aiguo Jiang, this is our last attempt. How much should we add?" asked Dai Li.
"How is Dashan Fang's third attempt?" Aiguo Jiang answered with a question.
"Don't know. They have not decided yet. Dashan Fang's coach is talking to the judge," said Dai Li.
"They are trying to buy themselves more time! They want us to choose first." Aiguo Jiang was an experienced weightlifter, so he immediately sniffed out Dashan Fang's intentions.
If the two had been in the same group, they would not have done this. Normally, the one who had had the weaker performance would choose first. But now that the two were in separate groups, they had time to delay.
"What should we do?" asked Dai Li.
Dai Li was too young. He lacked sufficient experience, and besides, it was his first time in a formal contest at the national level. He had no idea what to do. He could only ask Aiguo Jiang for help.
"Now we do the same thing. Come on, let's go to the judge's table and tell them that my barbell is unbalanced, and that I request a barbell change."
The formal competition required the use of international standardized barbells, both male and female. The differences were in the bar; all the plates were the same. The men's barbell was 2.20 meters long, and weighed 20 kilograms; the women's barbell was 2.15 meters long and weighed 15 kilograms.
When being used in a formal contest, the length and weight had to be exactly the same, all while maintaining good balance. Once the barbell lost its balance, it would strongly affected the weightlifter's performance.
It was hard to change the barbell during the competition. The new barbell could not be put to use right away; it had to be measured for balance, which took a great deal of time. As an experienced athlete, Aiguo Jiang knew the trick well. He chose to use it now to his advantage.
But the judges were not idiots. They knew that both athletes were using excuses to put off choosing their weights. Each wanted the other to choose first.
The game was delayed, and because there were another competition taking place afterwards, they could not simply wait here. After a discussion, the judges made a final decision.
"Choose your weight within two minutes or you will be disqualified," said the judge.
"What about them?" Aiguo Jiang pointed at group A. "What about Dashan Fang?"
"The same goes for them," said the judge.
Aiguo Jiang nodded. "Roger that."
"We must decide within two minutes. Which weight should we choose?" Dai Li was anxious. It was his first time going through a situation like this. He felt even more nervous as time passed by.
We are 1 kilogram clear of them, which is to our advantage. But Aiguo Jiang weighs more than Dashan Fang, which is a disadvantage. How much should we have? 171 kilograms? 172 kilograms? That should be a safe choice, since Aiguo Jiang can make it. But what if Dashan Fang chooses the same weight? Then we will lose!
Dai Li knew it was a physical game. If they chose less weight than Dashan Fang, he would end with more weight; if they chose to add more weight, they could still fail if Aiguo Jiang could not lift it. For Dai Li, a newbie coach, it was difficult to know how to make the right decision. Right now, fortune and experience were more important.
But Aiguo Jiang was fairly calm. As an experienced athlete, the best thing he had was experience. He remained level-headed in this critical moment.
After a while, Aiguo Jiang took a deep breath, his eyes shining with firmness. "Give me 175 kilograms!"
"175 kilograms? We have never tried that before." Dai Li was shocked. "I remember that the last Olympic 62 kilogram weight class champion's clean+jerk was 176 kilograms, and he won gold. Are you sure about this? Our place is guaranteed, we will either win first or the second. We will have a medal. We also have a one kilogram advantage. Is it necessary to take a risk?"
Aiguo Jiang did not reply. His facial expression showed Dai Li that he insisted on doing so.
A 175 kilogram clean and jerk would not be a problem if this was the Aiguo Jiang of years ago. He had once been in the 69 kilogram weight class. 175 kilograms was the minimum requirement for a national top-level weightlifter.
But for 62 kilogram weightlifters, 175 kilograms was a peak that was impossible to conquer. As Dai Li had said, in the last Olympic games, 176 kilograms had been enough to win a gold medal, while the world record for the 62 kilogram weight class clean+jerk was 177.5 kilograms. Therefore, lifting 175 kilograms in a national weightlifting championships substation contest was a dream.
Hearing the number "175," Dai Li knew Aiguo Jiang was taking a risk, or gambling, so to speak. Since Aiguo Jiang had dropped weight, he had not lifted 175 kilograms. To try a weight he had never tried in a formal contest, Dai Li could only cross his fingers for Aiguo Jiang.
Dai Li wrote down "175" on a piece of paper, then walked over to the judges. But he did not hand in the note.
Seconds later, Dashan Fang's coach also came over to the judges. He stopped in front of the table and looked at Dai Li, not handing in his note either.
The two both planned to wait until the very last second, this way the other would not change the weight.
The two were staring at each other. The judges could do nothing. They had already said that the two athletes had two minutes each. They could not grab the note beforehand.
Finally, at the last possible second, the two handed in their notes together.
On the bleachers, the audience had been waiting for a long time. They knew that it would be the last attempt that decided the winner. Because of this, they waited in patience.
"I wonder how much Dashan Fang added. Maybe one kilogram? I remember that the minimum increase is one kilogram."
"Dashan Fang is one kilogram behind Aiguo Jiang, so he must add more than one kilogram. Because Aiguo Jiang will also increase weight, and has a one kilogram advantage, Dashan Fang must add at least two kilograms if he wants to win first place."
"It would be safe for Dashan Fang to lift 172 kilograms. He should at least exceed Aiguo Jiang's weight."
"Plates are categorized by color. Let's wait and see which colors they have."
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