KUALA LUMPUR: Some were in tears. A few vomited. And there was pain and humiliation for some too.
But, at the end of the three-day motivation and training camp in Kuching on Sunday, national badminton chief coach Rexy Mainaky only has renewed respect for his doubles players.
For Rexy, the camp for the 16 men’s and women’s doubles player was a success.
He felt that the players had come out of it with more confidence and showed strong character in enduring hardship.
And that, he said, would take the players far as they try to establish themselves as reliable players for the country this year.
All his four elite players — Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong and Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif — received the thumbs-up sign yesterday.
Rexy said Boon Heong had finally come out of his cocoon.
“He has been in the shadows of Koo. This time, he took the lead. He showed positive traits in his attitude,” said Rexy.
“In team activities, he would always choose Koo as his partner. He showed that he has complete trust and faith in Koo. And that is good for their partnership.
“Koo was the captain. He showed great confidence and did his best to lead the group. He joked and said that he understood the job of a coach better.
“There was so much of improvement in Zakry and Fairuzizuan too. Zakry showed that he had the self-belief that anything was possible while Fairuz gave total focus.”
Rexy highlighted a few activities planned by National Sports Institute (NSI) psychologist Frederick Tan that tested the true characters of the players.
“On the day they arrived, all the players had their faces painted in black. Then, they were sent to have meals at a shopping mall. It was quite embarrassing but the players went through it,” said Rexy.
“Fred placed several packets of RM1.50 in several rubbish bins at the mall.
“Their job, as a team, was to find the money and buy a tube of toothpaste and tooth brushes for all. They managed to pull it off although (Tan) Wee Kiong and Khoo (Chung Chiat) vomited in the process.”
Rexy also made a special mention of women’s doubles shuttler Amelia Anscelly, who overcame her fear of heights.
“She was Fred’s first target when the players had to jump from a 25m spot during an activity conducted by the army. She cried all the way down. But she improved after a few jumps.
“Later, when she was challenged to jump into a tub of cold ice, she did without flinching! This was the positive attitude that I was happy to see.”
Rexy hoped that the players would apply these traits — confidence, self-belief and ability to handle any situation — when they are up against their opponents on court, starting with the three back-to back Open tournaments in Europe — German (Feb 24-March 1), All-England (March 3-8) and Swiss Open (March 10-15).
“They should maintain this positive attitude and justify the efforts of their coaches, association, Fred and the army personnel to toughen them up — physically and mentally.”