Bohl helps Park achieve perfect return
Asian swimmers have been competing at the Aoti Aquatics Center in the Asian Games and China has already collected more than 20 gold medals in the pool.
However, the spotlight has recently been on South Korean swimmer Park Tae-hwan.
Park touched first in the men’s 100-meter freestyle ahead of Japanese Asian record holder Takuro Fujii, signaling an emphatic return to form after a recent slump.
Park’s success has also seen Australian coach Michael Bohl, share the limelight.
Park who won a gold medal in the Beijing Olympic 400-meter freestyle has struggled in competitions since his triumph, including at the World Championships in Rome in July 2009.
To help Park get back on track, Park’s then-agent SK Sports and the Korea Swimming Federation decided to hire Bohl.
The Australian has been keen and passionate in coaching Park, in his overseas training sessions on Guam.
And now, Bohl — the Guss Hiddink of Korean swimming — revealed that Korean’s has still not fulfilled his potential.
“I think what he did was pretty historic,” Bohl told The Australian, a daily in his home country. “I think his first 200m (1:49.49) was the quickest ever in a 400m race. It was probably a bit too hot and he faded a bit at the end. I think if he had gone out a second slower he would have got to 3:40.
“He’s starting to get closer and closer (to Ian Thorpe’s benchmark). I think next year at the world championships he might be ready. He’s now confident enough to go out that fast and with more work in the next year his back end will be better.”
Compared to Thorpe (1.95-meter), Park (1.80-meter) is small but Bohl finds a similarity in their techniques.
“He’s got a really efficient stroke and, like all the good ones, he looks taller when he’s swimming,” Bohl said.
“I’m happy to have him in my squad because I think his excellence inspires my other swimmers — it opens up their eyes to what’s required.”
The contract between Park’s camp and Bohl ends at the end of this year, and already China has approached the Australian — Bohl rejected the request.
Park said he was really happy with Bohl and he hopes to continue working with him.
SK Sports and the KSF plan to extend the contract with Bohl and they seem positive on agreeing a deal as the Australian said his first consideration was not the money but Park’s potential when he signed his contract.