EXCLUSIVE || Park, Handoyo and Sozonov to Head Coaching at First Badminton Center of Excellence


Source: Archive photo & Google images.

In a first for Indian sport, the Badminton Association of India (BAI) has set up its own Center of Excellence in Guwahati, which will be opened with much fanfare in the presence of India’s leading badminton stars on August 11, 2023.

While hockey has a similar Center for Excellence, that facility is owned by the Government of Odisha. In that sense, it is a first for a sports federation in the country and the BAI deserves a lot of credit for it.

Headlining the development are the three foreign coaches, who have all had an India connection before. The BAI under Himanta Biswa Sarma, who was the main mover behind the center, has roped in Mulyo Handoyo from Indonesia for singles and Ivan Sozonov from Russia for doubles, and they will be joined by Park Tae Sang, the South Korean who was PV Sindhu’s former coach. Along with the three foreign coaches, there will also be a slew of Indian coaches who are all being hired at the moment. Going forward, this center of excellence could well become the supply line for Indian badminton stars. An idea first mooted by Sarma in 2017, it has been six years in the making.

Also Read: I want to do what Pullella Gopichand has done for badminton: Ravichandran Ashwin

While Park is well known to the Indian badminton fraternity for having coached Sindhu to a second Olympic medal in Tokyo, and also to a Commonwealth Games gold in Birmingham, Sozonov was tipped to be the Indian doubles coach a year ago. The Russian has serious pedigree and could help make a big difference with Mathias Boe, who is the national doubles coach. And Handoyo, who has worked in the Indian system before, has been part of the formative years of Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy in 2017. Srikkanth, it must be remembered, had his best year in 2017, and Prannoy first broke through the ranks in the same year.

Indian badminton, it could be argued, has been on an upswing in recent months. Almost in every Super Series tournament, India has seen one of its best make the semi-final or the final. If it was Satwik Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty in Indonesia and Korea, it was Lakshya Sen in Canada and Prannoy in Australia. With the Olympic qualification on, such results can only augur well for the sport, and the new center for excellence is expected to help sustain the momentum going forward.

It should be mentioned here that Pullela Gopichand, the national head coach, has forever argued for the need to have more coaches. Only when we have more and more Indian coaches will the sport be robust. And the presence of three pedigreed foreign coaches at the center will only help Indian coaches get better in the years to come.

Also Read: Satwik and Chirag can Dominate Badminton like Federer, Nadal and Djokovic did Tennis: Gopichand

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