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P.V. Sindhu’s bronze medal win is ‘a very big medal’, says coach Park

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P.V. Sindhu and Park Tae Sang are like two peas in a pod. The Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist and her South Korean coach can’t stop smiling after the medal win. And why not; it has been a hard journey for both the coach and his ward to reach the podium at the Tokyo Olympic Games. It took Sindhu a few seconds to realise that she had won the medal on Sunday, letting out a loud roar, a few seconds after scoring the match point against China’s He Bingjiao. Park finally let go of his emotions, exulting with joy, clenching his fists, followed by the duo hugging each other.

Sindhu had embarked on her Tokyo mission with the aim to convert the colour of her medal from silver —won in Rio Olympic Games in 2016—to gold. Park, who had worked with the South Korean national team from 2013 to 2018 before taking up the India offer, had yet to see Olympic success as a former player and coach. The duo got together a year-and-half back and Park, after consultation with chief national coach Pullela Gopichand, designed Sindhu’s training programme. Park incidentally is her third foreign coach in a short span of time, the previous ones being Mulyo Hundoyo and Kim Ji Hyun, who quit the foreign coach’s position suddenly.

Speaking to the media on Monday afternoon, post her bronze medal win, Sindhu said it didn’t take long for both of them to understand each other and settle down to work. “I have known Park for a long time when he was with the Korean team. When I started training with him, it took us some time to understand each other, my game and my strengths, etc. But both had the same dream. We worked very hard, especially him. He didn’t go home during the pandemic… met his family for only 13 days.”

Park, reacting to Sindhu’s win, expressed his happiness by saying, “I am really happy because this is the first time my player has got an Olympic medal during my coaching career.” Asked to describe his journey as coach of world champion and Rio Olympics silver medallist P.V. Sindhu, Park said, “When I first started training her, she was already an Olympic star. There was a little pressure (on me). I had tried, in my career, but not won an Olympic medal. This bronze medal win is a very big medal. I am really happy because after the semifinal loss, we were disappointed, but I told Sindhu ‘You have to play one more match. We will try for a good result in it’.”

For Sindhu, losing to Tai Tzu-ying of Chinese Taipei in the semifinal match was heartbreaking, but she revealed Park helped to lift herself out of the disappointment and focus with renewed vigour on the bronze medal match.

“I was sad (after the semifinal loss); everyone in my team was sad, but my coach told me that it is not over yet. I have another chance to win. Park said there is a lot of difference between a bronze medal and fourth position. That hit me. I told myself to get the mindset ready for the match, give my best, play my 100 per cent.”

When asked who was more nervous—Sindhu or himself—going into the bronze medal match, Park said, “I was little nervous.”

The period after Rio Olympics has seen Sindhu win more titles but also get drawn into controversies like differences with coach Pullela Gopichand and her decision to train at Gachibowli stadium, away from the rest of the Indian team at Gopichand Academy. Speaking about the last five years, Sindhu said, “The whole journey had a lot of ups and downs. After Rio, lots of things changed in my game; I had more experience, won the world championship, learnt a lot more. But I utilised the lockdowns in a very good way. I learnt new skills, techniques. Park was with me, training every single day. It was a good decision to train at Gachibowli… international-standard court, there was air-conditioning. I think it was the best decision we took.”

When asked whether she had interacted with her original coach Gopichand, Sindhu said she had received a message of congratulations from him. She even mentioned that “Since February, we are training at Gachibowli. If we needed sparring partners, we got them from Suchitra Academy, where I do my physical training. Park designed my training sessions.” Clearly, while there hasn’t been much interaction between Gopichand and Sindhu before and during Olympics on a daily basis, her training programme and progress would be discussed between Gopichand and Park regularly. She, however, mentioned that there had been no message from London 2012 bronze medallist Saina Nehwal, but then the two of them have never been close or chatting much.

Park, understandably, is eager to go home, back to his family whom he missed a lot; Sindhu mentioned that she would be only happy to work with Park again and that “definitely, I will be competing in Paris Olympics 2024.”


Courtesy – www.theweek.in

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