Stars of Asiad

(Asiad) S. Korean-born badminton star comes home as coach of Japanese team

2014/09/17 14:49

INCHEON, Sept. 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korean-born badminton star Park Joo-bong has come home again: as the head coach of the Japanese team competing at this year's Asian Games here.

"I've coached Japan in South Korea in some international events before," Park said Wednesday on the sidelines of Japan's practice here in Incheon, host of the Asiad. "But I've never been at such a major event, and this surely feels different."

   Park is one of the most decorated South Korean shuttlers in history. He has five world championships, four Asiad gold medals and one Olympic gold and one Olympic silver to his credit.

He has coached Japan since 2004, and this will be his third Asiad with Japan. Under his tutelage, Japan won its first Olympic badminton medal in 2012, a silver medal in the women's doubles. At the world team championships in May, the men's team won the gold and the women's team took the silver.

Park Joo-bong, South Korean-born coach of the Japanese badminton delegation, speaks to the press on the sidelines of his team's practice ahead of the Asian Games in Incheon on Sept. 17, 2014. (Yonhap) Park Joo-bong, South Korean-born coach of the Japanese badminton delegation, speaks to the press on the sidelines of his team's practice ahead of the Asian Games in Incheon on Sept. 17, 2014. (Yonhap)

Park's practice on Wednesday was watched closely by members of the Japanese press and also those from the Japanese Olympic Committee.

Park said he didn't mind the increased interest, but said heightened expectations could work against his athletes. He also noted that Japan got the short end of the stick in the draw.

In the team event, Japan had a bye to the quarterfinals and will face the winner of the South Korea-India match.

The Japanese women's team will likely meet Indonesia in the quarters and, if it gets past that, perhaps China in the semis, both of them difficult opponents.

"I'd like to help this team put on good shows before the South Korean fans," Park said. "We hope to win at least two medals, regardless of their colors."

   With other Asian nations boasting stronger badminton tradition, Japan has struggled at the Asian Games, with a silver and a bronze in 2006 and only a bronze in 2010.

This year, Japan will be led by the world's No. 3-ranked men's doubles team, Hiroyuki Endo and Kenichi Hayakawa, and the reigning world bronze medalist in the women's singles, Minatsu Mitani.

Park also offered a word of advice to South Korean players, including Lee Yong-dae. Lee and his men's doubles partner, Yoo Yeon-seong, are ranked No. 1 in the world but they recently lost in the world championship final to their compatriots, the 10th-ranked Ko Sung-hyun and Shin Baek-chul.

Park noted that Lee, a former Olympic champ in the mixed doubles, should learn how to better deal with pressure.

"I watched that final and I think Lee was overcome with pressure," Park said. "You have to learn to deal with that, and it takes experience. I'd like to tell him that he has to capitalize on his international experience at this competition."

   jeeho@yna.co.kr

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