SECOND COMING: Reputable Korean is prime candidate for director of coaching
THE BA of Malaysia's (BAM) mission in the London Olympics is not just about securing the nation's first gold medal but also to be on the lookout for a candidate to be the director of coaching and a familiar figure, Park Joo Bong, appears on the horizon.
Joo Bong, seen as the best doubles player to grace the sport, had his first stint in Malaysia as the men's doubles coach between 2000 and 2003 and has been Japan's head coach since 2005.
The widely travelled Joo Bong was also England's doubles coach between 1997 and 2000 and also had a short stint at home in 2004 to help out South Korea's doubles preparations.
His experience could be handy if BAM is looking for someone who is hands-on as a coach and also has the managerial experience due to his role in Japan.
Joo Bong guided Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah to the semi-finals of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the last Malaysian pair to reach this stage in the Games, besides guiding Chan Chong Ming-Chew Choon Eng to become the World No 1.
Both pairs also made it to the semi-finals of the 2001 World Championships.
Joo Bong has also earned praise for his efforts in turning Japanese shuttlers into world beaters where there has been significant improvement by their men's and women's doubles. Also, men's singles Kenichi Tago and Sho Sasaki have been one of the few players who have beaten the best in the world.
BAM general manager Kenny Goh said Joo Bong's track record is impressive.
"BAM is not zeroing in on just one candidate as the London Olympics will be a very good avenue as the best coaches will be assembled there.
"Joo Bong has strong credentials and has worked here before but BAM has not spoken to him," said Kenny.
"We do not know whether he is available. At the same time, we are also keeping an open mind and have several choices before the management makes a decision.
BAM is also said to be interested in hiring another foreign coach in Li Mao but the former China international's services with the Indonesia BA (PBSI) will only end after the Olympics. The news has caused a stir among coaches.
Li Mao's previous stint in Malaysia only lasted for 18 months and his current stint with Indonesia is not even complete for one year, so BAM will only be courting trouble if it decides to rope in the temperamental coach.
However, Joo Bong's arrival could be a boost as he is one of the most experienced coaches in the world.