XI'AN, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) -- What if you were hearing-impaired and had to start a race by following competitors instead of listening to the starting pistol? Would you be able to overtake others after a late start?
Hoi Long, who lost her hearing at the age of five months, gave the answer by finishing ninth in the women's triathlon at China's 14th National Games last Friday.
Triathlon is a highly demanding sport. Athletes must finish a 1,500-meter swim, 40km cycle and 10km run with no breaks. In other words, they are not only great swimmers, but also strong riders and fast runners.
This was the fourth time for Hoi to represent the Macao Special Administrative Region in the National Games of the People's Republic of China. The 37-year-old veteran hoped to break into the top 10.
But it got off with a bad start as she just ranked 24th after the 1.5km swimming race.
"Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I haven't joined in any competition in the past two years, and I didn't take any recent systematic training," said Hoi, adding that low water temperature posed more challenges for her to make adjustments.
In triathlon, athletes also need to pursue strategies to give full play to their strength through careful pacing.
Swimming ashore, taking on shoes already attached to pedals, mounting the bike forward, Hoi didn't give up. As cycling is her strong point, she began to pick up speed and outpaced many other competitors, ranking 13th after riding.
"I'm just going to catch up with the runners ahead of me one by one," Hoi said in a firm tone.
While many coaches were shouting at the athletes to encourage them, Mai Bingyao, Hoi's coach, only took videos silently for post-match research.
"For cyclists and outdoor athletes, if someone tries to interfere with them beside the race track, it might distract their attention," Mai noted.
In the running race, Hoi suffered a spasm of pain in her leg after the first lap. "This is the most difficult time for me," she said.
"Completing the game and finishing 9th really surprised me," Hoi told reporters after the race.
Hoi is not a professional athlete. Rather, she works in the Sports Bureau of Macao Special Administrative Region and undergoes training in her spare time.
Since losing hearing at a very young age, Hoi has never stopped chasing success in both daily life and sports. After graduating from Beijing Sport University, she grew fond of triathlon. Two decades have passed since she debuted in the race. She captured a bronze in the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games, a peak of her sports career.
Produced by Xinhua Global Service