Ever since PV Sindhu won the bronze medal at the 2021 Tokyo summer Olympics, one person has become the talk of the town other than Sindhu. He is no other than her current coach, Park Tae-Sang.
An emotional Sindhu let out a joyful scream as she beat He Bingjiao in straight games 21-13 & 21-15 to claim her second Olympic medal. It was a glorious achievement by the Queen of Indian Badminton.
The man who sat by her courtside is the man who is in question. Park Tae-Sang is the man who coached Sindhu to the podium. Park is a former South Korean singles badminton player who retired from the game and started as a coach in 2013.
Park is a singles badminton player who represented Korea in the Asian and Olympic games. He is a former Asian Games gold medalist who also won bronze at the Asian badminton championships and has even made it to the last 8 of the 2004 Athens Olympic games. The 42-year-old Korean started his coaching career with the South Korean national badminton team in 2013 and helped the national team for 5 years. In 2018, Park was roped in with a task to coach the Indian men’s singles players at the Pullela Gopichand academy.
Due to the sudden departure of Indian women’s coach Kim Ji Hyun towards the end of 2019, Park was handed charge of training PV Sindhu with clear instructions of winning a medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
All through Indian badminton has seen 3 foreign coaches who came and departed without completing their tenure. Kim Ji Hyun, who took over from the world-renowned Indonesian Mulyo Handoyo, had a very strong rapport with Sindhu. Right from the beginning, one constant person who stood by Sindhu was Pullela Gopichand. With Gopichand, Sindhu went onto win a silver medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016. Soon after the 2016 Olympics, Sindhu started to train under other coaches as Gopichand had to focus on other Indian players such as Srikanth, Saina, and others. That is when Gopichand pulled in Mulyo Handoyo, the coach who guided former world no.1 Taufik Hidayat to win gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Under Mulyo, players like Sindhu, Srikanth, Saina, Sai Praneeth, Prannoy started to progress. With new training methods, Indian players developed better fitness and performed better consistently. Mulyo resigned to takeover the Singapore national team, and that allowed Kim to train Sindhu and Saina. Under Kim, Sindhu won the elusive BWF World Championship Gold.
Kim has forced herself out of the Indian camp as she had to take care of her husband Ritchie Marr, who had suffered a neuro stroke. Allowing Park Tae-Sang to take control of training Sindhu for the Olympics.
When Park had an opportunity to get onto the court with Sindhu, COVID-19 struck and disrupted the schedule. Post-COVID-19 break things moved swiftly. During the break, the Korean studied Sindhu’s game and started working on her weaker side – the defence. They even moved to Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad from Gopichand academy to concentrate better, which raised many questions. This move however paid dividends in the form of a bronze medal at the Olympics.
Park Tae-Sang who was unable to visit his family due to Covid regulations was elated with Sindhu’s win more than anyone else. He said “It is the first time that an India badminton player has won two Olympic medals in badminton, so it is a great achievement not only for Sindhu but also a big moment in my teaching life. It is an important moment for my leadership career because as a player and coach I never won an Olympic medal. So it is a first for me too. I am very happy, can't express myself,"