Olympic Trials, Part 1
Sunday June 22;
Time seemed to go by in a flash since Keiko, Ryo and Saito saved Soichi form his miserable home. Soichi had since moved into the Aizawa home, and Kakeru and Nana were only too happy to put up Ryo's boyfriend. Keiko had progressed in her strength training and finally had equal strength in her entire body.
After weeks of vigorous training and preparation, the week-long Olympic Trials training camp had come at last. Everyone had taken time off from school to participate. Taking place at Anjinomoto Stadium in Tokyo, Keiko, Suzuka, Ryo, Rikka and Noriko had arrived with an hour to spare. Everyone else they knew to be trying out for the Olympics was taking their trials at different sport venues. The men had their own trials the week before, and Hiroki was now on the men's Olympic team.
"I told you we were getting here too early." Rikka said to Noriko as they entered the lobby
"Shut up!" Noriko replied, looking frantic
"If you don't relax you'll fail for sure." said Keiko, whose knees were shaking
"Take your own advice." Suzuka said to Keiko, but she too looked nervous.
"I recognize few faces here." said Ryo as they looked around at the other 50 women that turned up "There's Sachie Horigome, from Osaka. We faced her at the summer nationals last year. Abe from University of Tsukuba."
"Bonjour!" exclaimed a person who grabbed Keiko's breasts from behind. Keiko turned and saw that it was Chloe Lafayette. "Comment vas-tu, Keiko? As-tu perdu du poids? [How've you been, Keiko? Did you lose weight?]" Chloe asked, but Keiko looked blank "You've been neglecting your French, haven't you?"
"Foreign languages were never my forte, you know that. Now let go of me!"
"Been a while. How are the Red Diamonds Ladies treating you?" Suzuka asked when Chloe let Keiko go
"We've been getting along great! You should've seen our last game." Chloe replied just as Taeko and director Nakae came in
"Alright everyone!" Nakae called to the room at large "Before we begin the trials, you're going to receive a medical examination and evaluation. We please ask you to cooperate and follow the doctors' instructions."
"Je déteste ces choses. [I hate these things.]" said Chloe as they made their way to the medical rooms "By the way, where's your mom?"
"The higher-ups really wanted her, so she doesn't need to take the trials." said Ryo "They put her on the squad without a second thought."
"That just makes it easier for the rest of us to get a spot." said Noriko
After stripping down to their underwear in the locker room, the player went through the medical exams. The majority passed well, but those few who were deemed even slightly unfit were sent away in an instant.
"Isn't that a bit harsh?" Keiko asked as they watched a doctor sign a girl unfit for the trials "This isn't the military, why are they so strict?"
"Can't be helped. The law says they need to be thorough about health, and we don't have time to let them get back to full fitness if they aren't fit now." said the female doctor about to measure Keiko's weight "Please step up on the scale." Keiko did as asked. The scales on the 2030s were fully computerized and were capable of accurately measuring a person's weight without regards to clothing. But these exams still required the removal of extra clothing, just to be thorough. "Oh."
"What? Don't tell me I'm too heavy. I eat a balanced diet and I work out every day."
"Actually, Aizawa-san. You're not heavy enough."
"You're 3.135 kilograms underweight considering your height, 163 centimeters. But don't worry, this is one of a few things that won't be a concern with the trials. It's not actually uncommon for athletes to be end up underweight due to training, and you're the fifth one I've seen today. But after today, I advise you to eat a bit more, put on a few kilograms. But don't overdo it and gain too much."
"Yes, Ma'am." Keiko replied as she stepped off the scale to make way for Noriko
"Oooh, lost too much weight while training for the trials?" Noriko said with a sly smile "Or did you burn too many calories having sex with Saito-senpai?"
"Oh, shut up!"
"Hold it!" said the doctor, causing Keiko to freeze "How often? When was the last time?"
"Uuum..." Keiko hesitated
"Nearly two months ago." Keiko admitted
"And your period?"
"It's late actually."
"Then I insist you go through a pregnancy test."
"I already did!" Keiko told her hastily. "My fiancé's mother is an Ob/Gyn. I did one with her yesterday as a precaution. My womb's barren, I swear!"
"Did she record the results?" The doctor asked
"I know she did."
"Then contact her and have her send them to my superior."
"You sounded kinda desperate there." said Noriko
"You know how much the Olympics mean to me." Keiko replied "I'm not gonna blow my chances by getting pregnant."
Once everyone had gone through the medical exams, everyone who was deemed healthy enough to continue was instructed to make their way to the nearby dorms and find their assigned rooms. Keiko was sharing a room with Suzuka, Noriko and three others. Ryo and Rikka were in another room, and Chloe was in a third. Rikka wasn't happy about that and had to be dragged away by Ryo.
"Nooo! I wanna sleep in the same room as Aizawa-senpai!" Rikka cried as Ryo dragged her away
"I see she hasn't changed. Well, I'm off to find my room. Au revoir!" said Chloe as she walked off
"To this day, I still don't get what Rikka sees in me." Keiko said when they found their room
"Neither do I." Noriko answered
"Now, now." said Suzuka as she opened the door. Their three other roommates were already there "Konnichi'wa!"
"Konnichi'wa." their roommates replied
"Introductions then." Suzuka then noticed one of their roommates was Yukari Hayakawa "Yukari?"
"Suzuka-senpai!" Yukari exclaimed, jumping up and hugging Suzuka, then spotting Keiko "Keiko, you too? You cut your hair." Yukari briefly hugged Keiko, then spotted Noriko "Who are you again?"
"That wasn't funny the last time we met, and it's not funny now!" Noriko exclaimed
"Hey, Hayakawa, you know these three?" another of their roommates asked
"My senpai and two kohais from high school. Suzuka Akitsuki-senpai, formerly the captain of the Enoshima Girls Soccer Team, before she passed the title to me. This is Keiko Aizawa, who succeeded me as captain when I graduated, and Noriko Kishitani, who succeeded Keiko." Yukari introduced
"You did remember me!" Noriko muttered bitterly
They all sat down at the table to get acquainted better
"I've heard of Aizawa." said the final roommate "Didn't you perform like crap in Algarve?"
"Wa-wa-wa! Don't remind me of that!" Keiko exclaimed with her fingers in her ears
"Was there really any need for that, Orihara-san?" Yukari asked
"Just wanted to tease her?" Orihara replied with a smile
"And... you two are?" Noriko inquired
"Chizuru Orihara (千鶴 折原), 22, from Mie Prefecture." said Orihara
"I'm Kaori Sengoku (かおり 仙谷), 19, from Ishikawa Prefecture." said the other roommate "Orihara-san and I just met each other today, but it looks as if you four have known each other awhile."
"Uh-huh. We all went to the same high school." said Suzuka "Although I had already graduated by the time Noriko enrolled. I heard she threw a bit of a temper tantrum about it though."
"Bite me!" said Noriko
"Anyone else you know taking part this week?" Chizuru asked
"Just my sister Ryo, a French-born friend named Chloe Lafayette, and an underclassman named Rikka Togashi." said Keiko "The latter of which has a bit of a crush on me. Anyway, what positions you trying for?"
"Defender." said Kaori
"Keeper." said Chizuru
"I'm sticking with the midfield." said Yukari
"Me too." said Noriko
"That leaves forward position to me and Keiko." said Suzuka
"By the way, Keiko." said Yukari "I heard you and Saito-kun are getting married."
"Really!?" Kaori and Chizuru exclaimed
"Hai. How did you know?" Keiko inquired
"Don't underestimate my information network." said Yukari with a smug look
"Translation: I told her, and all our other teammates as well." said Suzuka, wiping the look off Yukari's face, but she regained it in a flash
"While we're on the subject, I should tell you that my name's no longer Hayakawa. I got married!"
"No, you didn't." Keiko, Suzuka and Noriko said lazily, again wiping the look off Yukari's face
"Those three know her well." Kaori said to Chizuru
Everyone changed into their training wear and returned to the stadium. It was now time for the first session of the trials.
"How's everything?" Nana asked Taeko as they watched the participants run two separate mini-games
"A lot of these girls are better than we thought." Taeko replied. On one side of the field, they watched Keiko and Rikka put the ball past a trial Keeper. In the other game, Suzuka and Ryo were leading the defense against the charging offense "Suzuka and Keiko are mostly dwarfing the competition, but it's undeniable that most others are on par with them, skill-wise. Although it seems that some of them are having a hard time coordinating with one another, most likely because most of them have never played together. But it's only the first day, we still have all week to see how they shape up with each other."
"Though we both know that only about half of these girls will be on the team. And some might never have a chance to play even if they make the Olympic squad."
"(sigh) Such is true."
"Aside for my girls and Suzuka-chan, I notice most of the regular team isn't participating in the trials." Nana commented "Most of the girls here are so young."
"Many of them are still in high school. For a change of pace, and to give the young'uns a chance to shine at the Olympics, Meiko and the others are trying out for the beach soccer tournament at the Asian Beach Games in Okinawa this year."
"I was wondering why I never heard much talk about the trials amongst them."
In Keiko's game, she just received a pass from a fellow trial participant and made her way past Kaori when she was suddenly blocked by a player she hadn't noticed till now, and hadn't seen since her last Inter-High tournament; it was Atsuko Miyamoto, formerly a player for Yokohama High.
"Hey, Aizawa." said Atsuko, blocking Keiko's way forward "Been awhile."
"Nearly two years. What of it?" Keiko asked
"I'm amazed they let you take these trials, given your performance last March."
"That's behind me. I'm amazed you're here too. Skills as lousy as yours. You and Yokohama didn't score a single goal against us during our third year. You were helpless against my team."
"Maybe we didn't score, but 'helpless' is not how I remember it." said Atsuko
"Allow me to refresh your memory." Keiko replied as she did a triple roulette past Atsuko, but Atsuko stuck a leg out and took the ball "What the-"
"Didn't you see my game last month?" Atsuko asked as she took off
"I didn't even know you had one!" Keiko replied as Rikka slid in and stole the ball back "Nice, Rikka!" Rikka passed to Keiko and took off back to the goal "Go long!" Keiko said as she sent the ball over the heads of the players.
"Saw that one coming." said Atsuko as Kaori intercepted before Rikka could connect
Before anyone could make another move, the whistle blew.
"That's enough, everyone." Taeko called "Gather 'round." Once everyone was assembled at the bench, Taeko continued "Good first practice. Now, I know this is a bit sudden, but I need to get this out of the way: I won't be coaching you in Casablanca." This news was met with murmuring "Quiet please, everyone. I'll be coaching the Beach Soccer Team that will represent us at the Asian Beach Games in Okinawa this year. I'll introduce you to your coach for Casablanca tomorrow. She and I will make the final decision at the end of this camp, but for now I'd like to say that I have a general idea of how the team will be structured." Everyone cast one another weird look at this "Now, now, no need for that. We're all comrades on the field. Return to the dormitory for lunch, and eat hearty. We're going to go all out for this afternoon."
After lunch, afternoon trials started. the procedure was the same, but teams were rearranged to see how everyone paired up with each other.
"I can't believe this!" Ryo exclaimed after their fourth failed attempt to break through
"Don't get frustrated, Ryo-chan!" said Yukari
"Ryo!" Chloe called, getting Ryo's attention "Cours, arrête, passe et en avant [Run, stop, pass and dash]" Ryo's face lit with understanding, but everyone else who heard her was stumped
Ryo then received a pass from one of her teammates, ran forward with the ball and found herself blocked by two players. Ryo then passed to Chloe, then dashed as Chloe passed back to her, leaving the opposition confused.
Ryo then did one-two passing with Yukari until they were in front of the trial goal keeper. Ryo then passed to the player coming up behind her, and that player put the goal away.
"That was impressive." said Taeko
"I know right." said Nana
On the other side of the field;
"Ryo-chan and Chloe never cease to amaze me." said Suzuka, who was on the defense with Keiko and Noriko in the opposite game
"You've known them for four years and you say that amazes you?" Keiko replied "That's practically typical of them." Right at that moment, Atsuko ran up to Keiko with the ball and Keiko blocked her "You can't pass me."
"I amazed you were let past the medical exams." said Atsuko
"A baby. Look how big you are."
Keiko knew she wasn't pregnant, but that didn't stop her from instinctively looking down at her waist, and Atsuko slipped right past her in her distraction "Why you little!"
Atsuko managed to advance into the penalty area before passing to a teammate, who scored.
"I can't believe she got me like that."
"I'm amazed you fell for it at all." said Suzuka and Keiko stuck out her tongue at her
After another hour, Taeko announced that the first day of trials was over.
"I can not believe that Miyamoto got me like that!" Keiko complained as she dried her hair after bathing after dinner "I knew I'm not pregnant, but I still fell for it."
"Give it a rest." said Noriko, who was looking over a list of people taking part in the camp "From Okinawa to Hokkaido, we've got participants from up and down Japan."
"You must be doing it a lot with your man if you fell for it so easily." said Chizuru
"Suzuka-senpai said..." Yukari started, but Keiko gave her a glare that told her to drop it "Sumimasen."
"Any idea who our coach for Casablanca will be?" Kaori asked
"The rumor says it will be someone from Europe." said Suzuka "Anybody wanna take a bet?"
"No point betting if we all turn out to be wrong." said Yukari, who was looking up weather reports on her phone "And I'm kinda broke right now anyways."
"A shame that Ishiki-san won't be coaching us." said Keiko "Why'd she decide to coach the Women's Beach Soccer Team this year?"
"Your guess is as good as ours?" said Chizuru
"Have you noticed that most of the participants have barely three-to-four years on us?" Noriko asked "Nana-san will easily the oldest on the team."
"What's your point?" Keiko asked
"I think that maybe Ishiki-san and the regulars wanted to give us, the current generation, a chance to shine. I'm guessing that means our coach will be pretty young as well."
"Ishiki-san's not that old." said Kaori "Okay, she's husbandless and childless in her forties, but she's not that bad off."
"Actually," said Keiko "Last year, she got married, but kept her surname."
"HUUUH!?" everyone but Keiko and Suzuka exclaimed
"I'm gonna go check on my sister." Keiko adjusted her yukata and left the room. Along the way, as she was passing the lobby, she spotted Taeko and Nana in the mist of a mildly-heated conversation
"I guess it's lucky you didn't need to participate in the trials, but, Nana-chan, you need to get yourself checked out." said Taeko
"I keep telling you, I'm fine." Nana replied "A little thing like this is nothin'."
"You say that now, but what if it gets worse?! I almost told the higher-ups."
"You will tell no one, you hear me!? This is my last chance to play with both my daughters in a big competition."
"Look, let's go back to our room. This isn't the place to discuss this." Keiko kept herself hidden as Taeko and Nana went off to their room "But, Nana-chan, please get it looked at."
"What was that about?" Keiko asked herself in thought
Monday, June 23rd;
After breakfast the next morning, as they prepared for the second day of trials, they were finally introduced to their coach for Casablanca.
"Ladies," said Taeko, who had Nana on her left an an unfamiliar woman on her right "Allow me to introduce your coach for your venture in Casablanca: Fiona Campbell."
"Konnichi'wa." said Fiona
"Konnichi'wa." everyone said in reply
"Fiona is a former player for the Scotland Women's National Team." Taeko continued "She retired due to a hip injury, but Fiona's willing to take on the challenge of coaching you through the Olympics."
"It's great to meet you all. My Japanese is a little... 'faulty'... So if you can turn to English once in awhile, I'd really appreciate it. Also forgive ma Scottish accent if you find it difficult to catch."
"Yes, Ma'am." most of the participants said in English.
"Well, if she made the effort to learn some Japanese in such short notice, I think we can try getting through her Scottish accent." said Suzuka to the other girls
Keiko was only half-listening, and mostly looking over at her mother "It didn't hit me until now, but I just noticed that mom's holding herself strangely." Keiko thought "Is she hiding something?"
"Is something wrong, Aizawa-senpai?" Rikka asked
"No, Rikka, it's nothing." Keiko replied "It doesn't seem like something I'm supposed to know, and mom doesn't want anyone to know. I suppose I'll keep it to myself and watch mom for a while."
"Alright, ladies, time to begin the second day." said Taeko "Two mini-games like yesterday, but we'll do something different this afternoon."
"Hai!" the team chorused
As trials resumed, Keiko played her best, but couldn't help but feel worried that Nana was hiding something important.