China blame 'fierce' fight for poor haul
CHINA pinned intense competition for their setback and promised to examine "shortcomings" on Saturday after slumping to their worst Olympic performance in 20 years.
China sent 410 athletes, their biggest team at a foreign Olympics, but by the penultimate day, they had won just 26 gold medals, their fewest since Atlanta 1996.
Worse, China trailed not only the United States but also Britain on the medals table, a fact that has prompted splutterings of indignation in Chinese media.
China topped the table in 2008 and were second in 2004 and 2012, but Chinese Olympic committee chief Liu Peng said rising standards had taken them by surprise.
"In recent years, more countries have attached importance to the Olympic Games so the level of play internationally has come up and the competition has become fierce," he noted.
"We need to employ a new mentality and new understanding (on) how to improve our performances and ability.
"We need more experiences and learning."
He said inexperience particularly had cost China, whose team were young, with three-quarters of them competing at their first Olympics.
"We have trained these athletes but the training isn't enough," he added.
"Because when these athletes are facing fierce competition and challenges, they have too much to think about and too many mental burdens and they didn't play at their highest level."