After falling short of a third consecutive world championship last month, Japanese figure skating star Shoma Uno has fueled speculation he may be planning to retire from competition.

The 2022 Winter Olympic bronze medalist finished a disappointing fourth at the March 18-24 world championships in Montreal as American Ilia Malinin established himself as the sport's brightest male star with a stunning victory.

File photo shows Shoma Uno after completing his free skate at the figure skating world championships in Montreal on March 23, 2024. (Kyodo)

The 26-year-old Uno avoided addressing his future plans after the competition but praised a number of younger skaters and spoke of wanting to give them encouragement.

"From here I want to say, 'Do your best.' I've already done my best," Uno said.

Some have interpreted those comments as a sign that Uno is preparing to hang up his skates.

The Aichi Prefecture native spent much of his career in the shadow of superstar compatriot Yuzuru Hanyu, who was both a friend and rival on the ice.

Uno established himself as a two-time world champion after both Hanyu and Beijing Olympic champion Nathan Chen stepped away from the ice, but he said there had been "a lot of difficult moments" with his two outstanding contemporaries no longer there.

The emergence of the 19-year-old Malinin does not seem to have fueled his competitive spirit, either.

"Maybe it's my age, or Nathan and Yuzu's influence, but I wasn't able to feel strongly like I wanted to win," he said.

Uno indicated that any decision on his future would come after discussion with his coach Stephane Lambiel.

"I want to talk to him properly once things have calmed down a bit," he said.

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