Huelva (Spain), Dec 19: The World Championships silver medal is a culmination of years of intense hard work, said India's Kidambi Srikanth after falling short of the top prize here on Sunday.
Even before his 15-21 20-22 loss to Singapore's Loh Kean Yew in the men's singles final, the 28-year-old's silver medal made him the first-ever Indian man to achieve the feat at the marquee tournament.
“In few tournaments, I played really well and in few tournaments I couldn't play well this year, but again, to reach the final of a world championship is something, that I really worked hard for, and I am really happy to be here today," Srikanth said.
"I will try to continue to work hard, it is a process and there are many other tournaments next year, like the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, world championship, so it is a very big year, next year. So I will try to stay positive."
Srikanth, currently ranked 14th in the world, had his moments but he squandered leads of 9-3 and 18-16 in the two games to see the coveted title slip out of his grasp.
“It has been a great week. Even today I had my chances in both the games. I had a healthy lead in first game and, even in second game, I had 18-16 cushion. I was not able to finish the match today. Loh played really well," he said.
"Lot of things to learn from this, so definitely I will work on this and try and get better for next tournaments."
Talking about his mindset ahead of the final, Srikanth said: "Going into this match, I really wanted to be positive and not make mistakes. But sometimes it happens; one has to win, one has to lose.
"I tried to stay in the match, it kind of worked in second game but it is important to finish off the match, but yeah, it is something I will need to work on."
Srikanth had defeated Loh the only time he met him three years ago, at the 2018 Commonwealth Games mixed team event. "Last time I played him was four (three) years back, which is a pretty long time. He has improved his game, he has matured as a player, his physical strength has improved and he is playing exceptionally well," he said.
Srikanth had faced a lot of difficulties in procuring his visa to get into Spain and the Indian said he wasn't sure if he would be able to participate in the event.
"I didn't know if I would be able to come here until Thursday. I got to know on Thursday evening, I think around 6 that I got my visa, so I wasn't sure if I will be able to come here. So yeah, I am just happy to come here and play another tournament. It has been a great week for me. I was able to play well throughout the week. I would have loved to win today."
Malaysia-born Loh was in disbelief after becoming the first player from his country to win a world championship title. "I cannot believe it. I mean, at the start of the year I didn't think it will happen. Now I can tell you I am finally happy, I don't have to focus on the match tomorrow," said the world number 22.
Sharing his game plan for the final, Loh said: "He (Srikanth) is such a good attacking player, I knew it is not going to be easy to defend his shots. So I needed to be prepared for his defence and not let him attack much.
"It didn't work well at the start and I had to pick up the pace and take initiative at the front. It wasn't easy to balance between being patient and aggressive. I wanted to win, but it was not easy to stay calm, but I managed to do it well in the end and it worked out well.
"I know I am not an underdog anymore. I need to think of how to manage things, I can only do it by playing competitions, winning or losing I can only learn from it. So I hope I can withstand the pressure."