Ki-won Park: Tireless innovator

Presenting the member of the FIVB Technical & Coaching Commission, two-time Olympian as a player and experienced coach

FIVB Technical & Coaching Commission member Ki-won Park has had a successful career as both a player and a coach. As a member of the Korean national team, he competed at two Olympic Games in the 1970s. For almost 40 years in the coaching profession, Park has been known as an energetic innovator.

Born in August 1951, young Ki-won started playing volleyball relatively late, when he was in eighth grade. But his talent was obvious and he quickly picked up speed. At the age of 20, the 1.96m-tall athlete made it to the national team and defended the Korean colours until 1978.

Park competed at the Olympic Games Munich 1972 where Korea finished seventh, and four years later, at Montreal 1976, where the team improved to a sixth-place result. He also participated in two editions of the FIVB Volleyball World Championship. In 1974, Korea finished 13th and, in 1978, they claimed fourth place. That same year, Park and his teammates triumphed at the Asian Games to improve on their 1974 silver.

During the last three seasons of his playing career, between 1979 and 1982, the Korean middle blocker competed for Pineto Volley in Italy, becoming his country’s first volleyballer to do so.

After retiring as an athlete, Park stayed on at Pineto as a head coach, marking the start of a coaching career that spanned over four decades. He spent many of those years at the helm of men’s and women’s club teams in Italy.

In 2002, Park took on his first national team coaching assignment and immediately led the Iranian men’s squad to a silver medal at the Asian Games that year. In 2003, Iran beat Japan for the first time in their history and celebrated with an Asian Championship bronze. Park was the first in Iran to introduce headphone technology and receive critical information from his staff during matches.

Park returned to Korea in 2007 to take over Gumi LIG Insurance Greaters, as today’s Uijeongbu KB Insurance Stars club was named at the time, leading their men’s team to the KOVO Cup final during his first season on the job.

Park smiling in action as head coach of Korea during the 2011 FIVB Volleyball World League

Park head coached the Korean men’s national team between 2011 and 2014. During that period, he steered them to a 2011 Asian Championship bronze and to a silver medal at the 2013 edition of the continental competition. Under his leadership, Korea celebrated with the Asian Cup trophy and an Asian Games bronze in 2014.

Even in his late 60s, Park continued to be a tireless innovator in his job. As the head coach of Incheon Korean Air Jumbos, a role he took on between 2016 and 2020, he recruited two female coaches for his team, the first men’s volleyball team in Korea to do so. He was also the first to introduce power serving in Korea, a country where accuracy was traditionally the emphasis in serving.

At the age of 68, Park was the oldest head coach in any professional sport in Korea. The wealth of experience he brought to the Jumbos paid off in a 2018 V-League title, in addition to three silvers in 2017, 2019 and 2020, as well as the 2020 KOVO Cup trophy.

Currently, Ki-won Park is serving as the AVC Coaches Committee Chairman and an FIVB Technical & Coaching Commission member.

Ki-won Park in the role of AVC Coaches Committee Chairman (source: asianvolleyball.net)