Park’s coach signs two-year extensionOlympic swimming gold medalist Park Tae-hwan will continue to train with Australian coach Michael Ball through the 2012 London Summer Games, according to an announcement made yesterday by SK Telecom Sports.
The company, which sponsors the 22-year-old Park, reached a new deal with Ball on Dec. 30, which will see the Australian coach stay on with Park through the end of the 2012 Olympics.
Ball received 1 billion won ($890,000) in addition to incentives for his previous contract. The terms of Ball’s new two-year contract were not disclosed.
Park made the national team at the age of 14 and competed in the 2004 Athens Summer Olympic Games, but was disqualified because of a false start in the 400-meter freestyle preliminaries.
Park first gained national attention at the 2006 Doha Asian Games by winning seven medals. Park would go on to win the Most Valuable Player award.
He reached stardom at the 2008 Beijing Summer Games by striking gold in the 400-meter freestyle event and winning silver in the 1,500-meter freestyle.
But Park struggled through 2009, when he slumped at the 2009 World Swimming Championships in Rome. He failed to reach the finals of all three events he entered.
In an effort to improve his game and tweak his routine, Ball, a former Australian national swim team coach, was hired in January last year to coach Park.
Training with Ball in Australia appeared to help, as Park swept the short- and middle-distance freestyle events (100, 200 and 400 meters) at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games in November.
Competing against world-class Chinese competitors Sun Yang and Zhang Lin, Park set an Asian record in the 200-meter freestyle with a time of 1 minute, 44.80 seconds.
With a confidence-boosting outing at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, Park will now start prepping for the 2011 World Swimming Championships in Shanghai from July 16 to July 31. Park will start his overseas training for the event in Australia in early February.
“I’m happy about being able to continue training with Coach Ball,” Park said through his sponsors. “I will approach training with the goal of winning on a world-class level at the upcoming world championships.”
By Jason Kim [email@example.com]