Park Tae-Sang, the cool former Korean shuttler behind PV Sindhu’s Mission Olympics

Park Tae-Sang may not have had a very distinguished playing career but he is among the most recognisable coaches in badminton, sitting on PV Sindhu’s courtside.

By Rahul Venkat
Picture by 2022 Getty Images

When PV Sindhu won the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics, there was one person who seemed even more elated than her - Park Tae-Sang.

The South Korean has been PV Sindhu’s coach since late 2019 and is ever-present in the Indian badminton ace’s courtside during tournaments.

While he is now best-known for being the world champion’s coach, Park Tae-Sang is also a former badminton player himself, having achieved some notable successes in his playing career.

Park Tae-Sang, the badminton player

Park Tae-Sang was born on June 20, 1979, in Busan and made his international badminton debut in 1997, when he was 18.

The shuttler was a regular part of the South Korean national badminton team and won his first medal with them, a bronze at the 1999 Sudirman Cup.

Park Tae-Sang played only one match in that campaign, losing to legendary Dane Peter Gade in the group stages. South Korea lost to eventual champions China in the semis to end up with bronze.

A few months later, Park Tae-Sang won two of his four matches as South Korea clinched another bronze medal at the 1999 Badminton Asia Cup.

At the 2002 Asian Games, Park Tae-Sang was part of the gold-medal winning South Korea men’s team, although he did not play in the tournament.

Park Tae-Sang’s best individual achievement came at the 2004 Asian championships. The South Korean beat Anuar Musafirov, Shoji Sato, Yu Chen and Young Soo Jang to make the semi-finals.

He then fell to silver-medallist Sony Dwi Kuncoro of Indonesia in the last four and finished with the bronze medal.

Park Tae-Sang is also an Olympian. He played men’s singles for South Korea at the 2004 Athens Olympics, making it to the quarter-finals after beating India’s Abhinn Shyam Gupta and world championships silver-medallist Bao Chunlai.

However, Sony Dwi Kuncoro again proved too big a hurdle to cross for Park Tae-Sang as the Korean lost in the quarter-finals. Sony Dwi Kuncoro went on to win the bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics.

Park Tae-Sang went on to win bronze with South Korea at the 2007 Sudirman Cup, though he did not play a single match. He continued playing for three more years before eventually retiring in 2010, at the age of 31.

On the BWF circuit, runners-up finishes at the 2003 Korea Open and 2010 Australian Open were Park Tae-Sang’s best moments.

Park Tae-Sang: The badminton coach

His love for badminton meant that Park Tae-Sang could not stay away from the sport for too long as he soon took up coaching.

Park Tae-Sang coached the South Korean national team for five years, from 2013 to 2018. He was then brought in to coach the Indian team in 2019.

Initially serving as the men’s singles coach, Park Tae-Sang became PV Sindhu’s coach after the world championships in 2019 as the star’s former coach, Kim Ji hyun, left the role.

Since then, the PV Sindhu-Park Tae-Sang partnership has been a very fruitful one.

The South Korean is often seen being animated outside the touchline and the video of his exhilaration as PV Sindhu won bronze at Tokyo 2020 went viral on social media.

It was a historic second Olympic medal for PV Sindhu - making her the first Indian woman and only the second Indian athlete to win multiple Olympic medals in individual events. She won a silver at Rio 2016.

It was also the first time that Park Tae-Sang coached a player to an Olympic medal, making it a special event for him.

PV Sindhu also won the gold medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, something which was missing from her cabinet, under the stewardship of Park Tae-Sang.

The Korean coach even learnt a phrase or two in Hindi, uttering the words ‘aaram se’ (which roughly translates to ‘keep calm’) during the CWG run.

“During games I only say aaram se in Hindi since Tokyo. Sindhu sometimes gets upset when she drops back-to-back points against opponents. The game is still not over, but she gets upset. 

“So, in those times, I have always said, 'Sindhu, please. Aaram se. The match is still not finished. You can do it. The opponent will also give you a chance in the game. You wait. Don't get upset,” Park Tae-Sang has been quoted as saying. 

He has also worked hard on PV Sindhu’s defensive skills, which visibly improved at Tokyo 2020.

Having achieved such good success together, the next goal is clear for Park Tae-Sang and PV Sindhu - targeting the Olympic gold at Paris 2024.

One can only imagine the scale of celebrations if and when that dream is finally realised for both player and coach.

Park Tae-Sang medals and achievements

Event Edition Medal
Sudirman Cup Copenhagen 1999 Mixed team bronze
Badminton Asia Cup Ho Chi Minh 1999 Men's team bronze
Asian Games Busan 2002 Men's team gold
Asian Championships Kuala Lumpur 2004 Men's singles bronze
Sudirman Cup Glasgow 2007 Mixed team bronze

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