BY RAJES PAUL
KUALA LUMPUR: National men’s doubles badminton back-up coach Tan Kim Her has earned himself a rare honour – he has been appointed as the national men’s doubles coach for South Korea, the world powerhouses in the men’s doubles.
The 34-year-old Kim Her will become the first Malaysian to coach one of badminton’s big four - Indonesia, South Korea, Denmark and China.
Malaysia have engaged many foreign coaches, including former Korean doubles star Park Joo-bong and Danish hero Morten Frost, but no Malaysian has coached any of the big teams before.
TAN KIM HER: He will become the first Malaysian to coach one of badminton's big four - Indonesia, South Korea, Denmark and China.
Kim Her will relinquish his six-year career as a coach in Malaysia today.
Although his job with South Korea officially starts on Feb 1, Kim Her will be with his new team during the Korean Open in Incheon City from Jan 25-30.
The strongly-built Kim Her chose not to reveal the deal offered to him but it is believed that he will be paid higher than any coach in Malaysia.
Kim Her was elated with the turn of fortunes.
“It is certainly a great honour not only for me but to all the local coaches. It shows that we have the ability, too. This should lift the morale and standard of the local coaches,” said Kim Her, whose best results in his not-so-successful playing career was reaching the semi-finals of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games with Soo Beng Kiang.
“All these happened quite recently. I was approached by the Korean chief coach during the Indonesian Open recently (Dec 13-19). I was interested and we discussed matters in depth,” said Kim Her. “They offered me a four-year contract. But I wanted it to be reviewed every year.”
Asked if he would be in charge of the South Korean men’s doubles department, he said: “It looks like it. My target is to focus on their back-up players and get them ready for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The next Asian Games (in Doha in 2006) is also very important to them.
“I will also have players like Kim Dong-moon-Ha Tae-kwon (the former world champions and Athens Olympic gold medallists) but they are independent enough and will be valuable sparring partners. Lee Dong-soo (another formidable Korean doubles player) is now a player-cum-coach. He will be assisting me with the coaching too.
“But I am strictly under the charge of the Korean chief coach. All national coaches will be given training programmes and I cannot change their weight-training programme. But I have a free hand when it comes to stroke development.”
Kim Her said he would be professional in carrying out his duties.
“It is a good opportunity for me to learn the South Korean way of doing things. They are a disciplined lot. I have picked up bits and pieces on coaching when I was under the tutelage of Frost and Joo-bong and current chief coach Yap Kim Hock. I am still learning and this process of improving oneself will definitely not stop,” said Kim Her, who also plans to pick up the language.
“There will always be pressure to perform as a coach. Unlike a player, a coach has so many responsibilities over so many players. Besides developing the back-up players and getting them ready for the Olympics and Asian Games, I will also help South Korea to produce good results in the Open tournaments.
“Many asked if I would reveal the strength and weaknesses of the Malaysian team to the Koreans. All I can only say is that I will be professional,” said Kim Her, who will be leaving behind his former international bowler wife Sharon Low and his two young children Brandon (two years old) and Bernice (two months old).
“I will come back to Malaysia. And the knowledge and experience learnt in South Korea will help me be a better coach. It will be useful if I am offered a place again here in Malaysia in future.”
On his six-year coaching job in Malaysia, Kim Her said: “There is always a gush of excitement when I see the youngsters produce good results. I have seen many moving up the ranks and it is satisfying.”
Among the junior pairs who have showed marked improvement under the guidance of Kim Her are Lin Woon Fui-Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari and Gan Teik Chai-Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif.
The others who were also under his guidance at one stage of their career are Tan Bin Shen, Ong Soon Hock and Koo Kien Keat. All these players are already posing threats to the senior players around the world.