BAI appoints Park Tae-sang, Mulyo Handoyo and Ivan Sozonov for National Centre of Excellence
While Handoyo and Sozonov will be head coaches for singles and doubles, Park, who was PV Sindhu's coach during the shuttler's Olympic medal-winning performance in Tokyo, will be the 'foreign coach'.
Badminton Association India (BAI) roped in Mulyo Handoyo from Indonesia, Ivan Sozonov from Russia, and Park Tae Sang from South Korea as the three coaches for BAI National Centre of Excellence, Guwahati, Assam. The centre will be inaugurated in the presence of India's Thomas Cup-winning team on Friday.
While Handoyo and Sozonov, the winner of 2016 All England Open men's doubles title with Vladimir Ivanov, will be head coaches for singles and doubles, Park, who was PV Sindhu's coach during the shuttler's Olympic medal-winning performance in Tokyo, will be the 'foreign coach'.
The national centre is the brainchild of BAI president Himanta Biswa Sarma. A joint venture between the Assam Government and BAI, the centre has 24 courts, a residential facility, and an arena with a seating capacity of 3000 spectators.
“The modern day facilities in this centre will provide a comprehensive ecosystem that nurtures athletes, coaches and sports professionals to reach their full potential. It will contribute significantly to the growth of sports by creating an environment that promotes excellence and innovation. We also plan to expand this centre further to help train more players in future," said Sanjay Mishra, BAI General Secretary.
The national centre will be overseeing the progress of future-generation Indian talents, with Sozonov's name first popping up for the role of India's doubles coach in December.
BAI is the only second national sports federation to set up a national centre for excellence after hockey.
While 34-year-old Sozonov, who retired in 2022, will be the new face in the Indian coaching system, Park, who has been roped in as a 'foreign coach', and Handoyo are familiar faces in the Indian badminton circle, with the former's partnership with Sindhu coming to an end in February.
"..I'd like to talk about my relationship with Sindhu, which many people have asked about. She has made disappointing moves in all recent matches, and as a coach, I feel responsible," the coach wrote on his Instagram page, citing the reason for severing his coaching partnership with the star Indian shuttler.
Sindhu's performance has only gone down in recent times, with the shuttler making seven first-round exits this season. Sindhu last won a title at the Commonwealth Games 2022 in August where she sustained a left-foot stress fracture which would rule her out for six months. Her last World Tour title came at the Singapore Open Super 500 in July last year when Park was in charge.
Handoyo - the man behind Srikanth's rise to world no. 1
Like Park, Indonesian Handoyo has worked with Indian shuttlers in the past. He has overseen the meteoric rise of Kidambi Srikanth, who attained the world number 1 in April 2018 on the back of winning record four World Tour titles for a single reason. HS Prannoy, the current world no. 9, has also trained under Handoyo, who has commendably oversaw legendary Taufik Hidayat's gold medal-winning performance at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Hidayat is among the dignitaries who will grace the inauguration ceremony.
Along with the three overseas coaches, there will be several Indian coaches working under their guidance.
Meanwhile, while Sozonov will work with the upcoming doubles pairings, Mathias Boe, the chief doubles coach of India, will be monitoring the rise of world no. 2 Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, and Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand.
Likewise, Pullela Gopichand will remain the national head coach of India.