Rio Olympics: United States wins gold in men's 4x400 meter relay

The United States men's 4x400 meter relay team

Rio Olympics: United States wins gold in men's 4x400 meter relay

The authorities' invitation, and Xu's support, reflected the public's desire for Chinese women's volleyball to return to its former glory, after failing to reach the final at the 2008 Olympics and losing their quarter-final in London in 2012.

"Rio seems to be missing the importance of Olympic awards ceremonies, which represent respect for the athletes and where they are from", he said.

Liu Peng, head of China's Olympic committee, said rising standards in other teams had taken them by surprise and they would come back strongly in Tokyo in 2020. "I'm so happy for the young girls, they trained very hard".

But things started to click for the Chinese late, pulling off an epic comeback against host Brazil in the quarterfinals and then getting some revenge on the Netherlands in the semis. The win also put Chinese coach Jenny Lang Ping in the history books.

The Chinese exhibited that same fire and fight a year ago while winning the World Cup in Japan, then got to Rio de Janeiro earlier this month and worked through some initial rough, inconsistent Olympic moments. "In the Rio Games we didn't win so many medals... we didn't assess objectively the challenges we might face at these Games", said Liu.

Lang Ping is also the first woman to coach in a gold medal match.

"You kidding me? The country which has never finished above China is about to", spluttered the official Xinhua news agency, in a tweet that was later removed. "We have to be patient and just had to go one game at a time".

State media labelled the Games as China's "worst Olympic flop" and cited Britain's spending as the reason Team GB toppled them on the medal tally.

Chinese netizens first pointed out that incorrect Chinese flags were being raised at Olympic award ceremonies during the Games' first weekend.

Lin towered over the sport for at least a decade but at 32, Rio was all but certainly his last Games and it was not the end to a glorious career that he would have wanted.

Meanwhile, Lang headed overseas for more coaching assignments.

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