Hounslow's Rajiv Ouseph admits that a taste of the big time has given him the appetite for more after his YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships adventure came to an end in Birmingham.
After beating third seed Son Wan Ho and India’s H.S. Prannoy to reach the men’s singles quarter-finals, Japan’s Sho Sasaki was one step too far for Ouseph as he went down 21-14, 21-11 at the Barclaycard Arena on Friday evening.
The world No.22 produced some scintillating badminton to see off Son and Prannoy but failed to replicate that against Sasaki – a man just six places above him in the world rankings.
And while he was disappointed not to capitalise on a golden opportunity to make the semi-finals, Ouseph insists that reaching the YONEX All England last eight for the first time means his tournament can be viewed as a success.
“It probably wasn’t my greatest performance out there,” said Ouseph. “I definitely didn’t replicate my performances from the last two days and I think it has probably caught up with me a little bit.
“I haven’t been able to train fully over the past few weeks, so it was good that I was able to play two back-to-back matches but I think this was maybe one game too far.
“I think it has been a successful week for me – looking at the draw, I was probably expected to go out in the first round, so to reach the quarters is a good achievement.
“It’s something I can hopefully reproduce in the future. The crowd were really good but they were probably expecting a little bit more from me.
“I wasn’t able to produce but it was still a great experience for me to get through a couple of matches and to participate on the Friday. It’s given me a taste, so I want to come back and do the same next year.”
Prior to this year, Ouseph had been knocked out in the second round of the YONEX All England on three previous occasions, so going one step further sets him up for the rest of the season.
And with the Olympic qualification period starting in May, the 28-year-old acknowledges that all roads now lead to Rio.
“I’ve got the Swiss Open next week and then a couple of weeks training before heading off to Asia, so the tournaments are coming thick and fast,” added Ouseph.
“Then the Olympic qualification starts in May, so Rio is starting to enter my mind now.
“I got a taste of it in London, which was a really good experience, but I didn’t do as well as I wanted to. If I can manage to put that right in Rio, then that’s something I would want to do.”
Tickets for the YONEX All England 2015 at the stunning new Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham are available on the door or online at allenglandbadminton.com.