Malaysia’s Tan Kim Her has returned for a second stint as the doubles coach of the Indian badminton team, the sports ministry said on Friday, having approved his appointment for a five-year period till the 2026 Asian Games.

The 50-year-old, who was India’s doubles coach from 2015 to 2019, was tipped to take over the position which was left vacant in recent times. Satwik-Chirag had worked with Denmark’s 2012 Olympic silver medallist Mathias Boe in the build-up and at Tokyo Games. Indonesia’s Flandy Limpele too had left as the Indian doubles pairing had managed the end of last season without a dedicated overseas coach handling the affairs.

It was reported in December last year that Tan is likely to join the Indian coaching set-up with the Badminton Association of India waiting for an approval from the Ministry.

During his first stint, Tan had played a vital role in the rise of Indian doubles players Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy as they made breakthroughs on the Tour, besides winning individual silver and team gold at Commonwealth Games in 2018.

“Satwik and I are happy that Tan coach will be back with us. We always look up to him as he paired us together despite our early hesitation because while we were similar, neither of us was confident of playing the front court,” Shetty, who is currently ranked World No 8 with Satwik in men’s doubles, said as per a ministry release.

“Tan coach’s conviction helped us reach the level we did. He got us from nowhere to the top 16 by the time he left India (the pair was 20th when Tan left in March 2019, having reached 16th towards the end of 2018). We are thankful to the Badminton Association of India and the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports for getting him on board,” the 24-year-old added.

Tan had trained Satwik and Chirag to the top 20 in the Badminton World Federation men’s doubles ranking and also played a big role in Ashwini Ponappa and Sikki Reddy’s entry into the top 20 spot in the women’s doubles ranking. Besides, six pairs were ranked among the top 50 across different pairs during his first stint, said the Sports Authority of India in their press release.

“Coach Tan Kim Her is well aware of the Indian Badminton ecosystem and his inclusion will strengthen the doubles contingent even more. I am glad that BAI and SAI could come together to execute his appointment which will not only help our leading doubles pairs, Chirag (Shetty) and Satwik (Rankireddy) but also help to groom the next in line doubles bench strength.” said Ajay K Singhania, General Secretary, BAI.

Tan, who has coached England, South Korea and Malaysia in the past and most recently in Japan, had resigned as India coach in 2019 citing personal reasons, one and a half years before his contract was to end. He then went on to coach the Japanese men’s doubles team to victory in the 2021 World Championships and the mixed doubles team to a silver medal in the World Championships and bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympic Games.

After resuming his position, the Malaysian will now “be responsible for putting in place an overall coaching system and plan besides oversee coach education. He will identify Indian coaches with potential and assist in their skill development by holding four workshops each year,” the ministry said in the release.

“This will ensure that the nation will have a number of doubles coaches with the skill sets to take the Indian teams to greater heights in the future.”

2022 is an important year for Indian shuttlers with big-ticket events such as the CWG and Asian Games lined-up, besides the World Championships.

Coach Tan had overseen a historic gold for Takuro Hoki-Yugo Kobayashi who became Japan’s first world champions in the men’s doubles in Huelva last year.

“We did a lot of work with Takuro and Yugo after the seniors left (Takeshi Kamura-Keigo Sonoda). We invested a lot of time on watching videos, match analysis, discussions but most importantly, the players trusted me,” said Kim Her according to The Star. “They know that with my experience, I can guide them to a different level.”

Indeed, the sentiment was similar when he had left Indian soil in March 2019. “So it’s time bid good bye to our Coach Tan Kim Her,” Chirag had said back then in his farewell post. “3 and a half year’s with this guy and we achieved some things which I had only dreamt of. Although would have loved him to stay here until the olympics but well that’s life nothing is constant. We were a lowly 400 when we started and before he left we were ranked as high as 16.”

And now he returns with the Indian pair in the top 10 (world No 8) and eyeing a spot in the top five in the world.

(With PTI and SAI inputs)

From the archive:

National coach Tan Kim Her on how he is revolutionising Indian doubles badminton

A behind-the-scenes look at Satwik-Chirag’s incredible rise in world badminton