Coach expects good show from Japanese shuttlers


New Delhi:Once known as the “king of the shuttlecock”, former South Korean badminton superstar Park Joo Bong is here with the Japanese team as its head coach for the Badminton Asia Championships.

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Park, doubles expert, has been working relentlessly with the Japanese team to bring it to the forefront of international badminton.

“The sport is not so popular in Japan. It is only in the past five-six years that it has caught up there. The players are performing well and are also getting the media coverage,” Park said.

Park, who has also coached the British team in 1999 and Malaysian from the same year to 2002, said the recent performance of his players has been good and they should match up to the challenge of other top contenders like China, Malaysia and Thailand here.

“Kenichi Tago who reached the men’s singles final of the All England Open last month and Miyuki Maeda and Satoko Suetsunaand, who reached the women’s doubles final of Swiss Open, are playing here. So, I feel one of our player should reach the final,” Park said.

“If we do well, it will help to improve our rankings in world championships in August. Though the field is not very strong here with many of the Chinese, Indonesians and Koreans missing the tournament, but still there are some quality players and we have to be at our best.”

Park feels at least one of his players should cruise to the finals of the tournament.

Park has a total of 52 international titles to his name, including a men’s doubles gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and a silver in the mixed doubles at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

The South Korean also has nine All England Open Badminton Championships titles.

Park, well versed with sport facilities around the world, is satisfied with what New Delhi has lined up for the championship – a test event for the Commonwealth Games – at the Siri Fort Stadium but feels a lot needs to be done before the start of the mega event in October.

“The draught is uneven. From the entrance it is faster and slower from the other end. It is a bit early to comment on how the stadium is going to be as it is still incomplete,” said Park, who in 2001 was enshrined in the International Badminton Federation Hall of Fame.

“But the stadium otherwise is of international standard. You have a warm-up area just next to the main hall. Only thing is that it is bit dusty. The arrangements are good. All teams have a liason officer and other arrangements also by and large meet the expectations.”

Park, however, found the posse of security personnel a bit unsettling for his young players.

“The security is too much. It is like you have in Asian Games and Olympics, where it is normal to see such a thick cover. But for an Asian event, I think it is way too much.”

“Most of the players in the team are inexperienced and for them it can become a bit unnerving. Though they should adjust to it.”