Chinese fans were left in shock after their women paddlers failed to win the gold medal at the World Team Table Tennis Championships for the first time since 1991.
The Chinese trio of Ding Ning, Liu Shiwen and Guo Yan fell to their Singaporean counterparts 3-1 in the final in Moscow on Sunday as the Southeast Asian city-state claimed their first title in the event.
Both Ding and Liu had never played in the tournament and coach Shi Zhihao pinpointed that as the reason for China's surprise failure to win a ninth consecutive title.
"We bring many young talents to Moscow. None of them has experience in playing in a tense final," Shi told state news agency Xinhua after the defeat.
"In a sense, we lost to ourselves, to the immaturity. This is a lesson the youngsters must take in their career life."
Singapore team manager Eddy Tay said that the belief his trio of Feng Tianwei, Wang Yuegu and Sun Bei Bei had shown after losing the 2008 Olympic and World Championship finals to China was the key to victory.
"A lot of times, when we met them in the finals we lost 3-0, 3-1. But we kept telling them (Singapore players) that one day, we should be able to beat them," Tay told Channel News Asia. "When we came out (for the medal ceremony), all of us were in tears and they were lost for words. They couldn't believe (they won)."