The coach credited with grooming swimmer Park Tae-hwan to become an Olympic gold medalist abruptly announced Thursday that he was resigning as head coach of the national team, a move that followed Park's recruitment of a foreign private coach.
Roh Min-sang started coaching Park when the swimmer was 7, two years after his parents introduced him to swimming to heal asthma.
National swimming coach Roh Min-sang (Chung Hee-cho / The Korea Herald)
Roh was given recognition when the pupil became the first South Korean to win an Olympic gold at the 2008 Beijing Games.
"I wanted to make the happiest and the most beautiful ending," the 55-year-old coach said at a surprise news conference after a meeting at the Korean Swimming Federation (KSF).
"I want to thank everyone for supporting swimming. Your support has encouraged me to work here," he said. "Park's successes at the Asian Games, world championships and Olympics are attributable to you."
Roh, who started his coaching career in 1980, took the helm of the national squad in 2006. With him in charge, Park brought home the gold medal in the men's 400-meter freestyle from Beijing.
But Roh's role declined after Park recruited Australian Michael Bohl as his private coach in early 2010 after his lackluster performances at the 2009 world championships.
With Bohl, Park successfully rebounded to win three events at the Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010 and extended a contract with the coach until the 2012 London Olympics.
"I've dreamed of discovering talented swimmers as Park's successors," Roh said. "I'm sad, but I think it's good to make way for younger coaches."
The KSF said assistant coach Ahn Jong-taek will serve as the acting head coach of the national team until it picks a new leader.