REXY Mainaky has been on the lips of every Malaysian since mens doubles Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong burst onto the badminton scene. Nobody denies that Rexy has played an instrumental role in the pairs development but, as Timesports K.M. BOOPATHY finds out, there is much, much more to the deeply religious 1996 Atlanta Olympic gold medallist.
TIMESPORT: Who is your biggest inspiration in life?
REXY: My parents. My father (Rudolph Mainaky) was an all-rounder but his passion was badminton. My favourite sport used to be football but it was my father who diverted my focus to badminton and I owe my success to him.
My mother Venna is the person who taught me a lot. What are the good things we should follow, the bad things we should avoid and most importantly, she thought us the importance of being God-loving human beings. She always stressed we are not perfect but praying to God improves the virtues of a person. I also read a lot about the success stories of individuals and from which I gained inspiration.
Q: You were a charismatic and aggressive character on court and are equally the same as a coach. Are these characteristics the secret of your success?
A: I was aggressive and shouted a lot while playing to motivate myself. It also reduced pressure and worked as a psychological ploy to battle opponents. It helped me come out of a lot of difficult situations and near defeats. I am always involved emotionally when my players are on court and I have inculcated the same attitude in my players.
Sometimes, the players have to be fired up on court and this means expressing themselves without crossing the limits. A player who looks arrogant or too aggressive on court is not a big problem but he should not be like that off court. Humility and being humble outside the court is the only way a player can become better.
Q: Your training sessions begin and end with a prayer. How much do you think religion helped you to become better as a player and now as a coach?
A: We can have all the talent and work hard but there is something beyond us that decides many things. Worshipping God is the way I grew up and religion has taught me not to be arrogant.
The results were coming last year but I did not lose faith. Ive always believed that God will answer my prayers and it has happened. Religion also made me very disciplined as a player and I was able to overcome many obstacles with (partner Ricky Subagja).
I am a Christian and Ricky a Muslim but faith in our respective religions gave us the extra strength. There were times we struggled in major finals. Ricky would be saying "Bismillah" when serving while I would be praying in my own way and it always helped. This is why I encourage all my players to spend a moment on prayer in their own way and based on their religious beliefs. When nothing works, faith in God is the final solution.
Q: What is your favourite past time? What would you do on Sundays?
A: When I was a player, my favourite past time was to have a game of football with my friends. Now it is all about spending time with my wife (Henny Mainaky) and my children Geraldine (nine) and Indonesias Christian Rudolph (eight). On Sundays, Ill go to church with my family which gives me more opportunity to spend quality time with them and also to meet a lot of friends. After that, I normally take my family to shopping malls, movies or relax with them at home.
Henny is a good cook and a good meal on Sundays is also something I look forward to. I also make use of the time to find ways to improve my players. I try to visualise the plans of my rival coaches in order to keep ahead. I think along the lines of what would I do if I were Denmarks coach and what would my strategy be if I were Chinas coach? It is normally hard to get completely away from badminton.
Q: What is a perfect day for you?
A: Everyday is a perfect day for me. My routine is almost the same where I conduct training, return home, and have dinner with my family. Add it with time to attend church and time to catch a movie. Thats enough to make it a perfect day.
However, a one-off perfect day Im waiting for is the mens doubles final of the Olympics where my players end up winning the gold. Nothing can beat that.
Q: Former internationals normally consider a coaching role in their country but England was your choice. What made you accept an offer in a country where the culture and tradition is in stark contrast to Asian lifestyle?
A: The offer I received from England was good and at the same time my children got the opportunity to get overseas education. I also wanted new experiences and a different kind of challenge in Europe. It was not because of the countrys (Indonesia) economical and political situation. My experience in England has made me a better coach where Im able to understand the culture and characteristics of both worlds.
Q: What actually brought you to Malaysian shores?
A: I actually decided to accept a long term contract with England but a meeting with Yap Kim Hock (national chief coach) during the 2005 All England changed everything. I requested for two weeks to make a decision and it was Hennys call once again. It was a coincidence that Henny and her friend were treated badly by some young English boys and she felt very hurt by their remarks about us being Asians. When I spoke to her about the offer from Malaysia, she agreed.
The other factor is England were having an aging squad while Malaysia have a lot of young players with potential. Therein lay the chance to prove myself further as a top coach and I accepted the challenge.
Q: Who was your idol as a player and who would you like to emulate as a coach?
A: My favourite players are Chinas Yang Yang and Christian Hadinata. Many would be surprised to hear Yang Yangs name but I started as a singles player. Christian is probably our best doubles player ever and as a coach, nobody can match him until today. Thats the reason why I want to emulate him as a coach. If possible, to be better than him.
Christian moulded Ricky and me into a world class pair and there were many others who attained fame. As a player, Christian was a great tactician, calm on court, never panicked and destroyed the opposition with little trouble. He pioneered the modern game and we were lucky to have him during our career.
Q: What prompted you to create the combination of Kien Keat-Boon Heong and how much more do you think they can achieve in their careers?
A: I had seen Kien Keat in action (before coming to Malaysia) and even England players like Nathan Robertson and Anthony Clark said he had a lot of potential.
I had not seen much of Boon Heong when I arrived as he was away for some junior tournaments. When I saw him in training, I realised that he was the ideal partner for Kien Keat and felt the duo could go far. I tried them out for the first time in the Japan Open and their performance (they lost in the final) encouraged me to play them in the Asian Games and the rest is history.
The good thing is they are just starting and they can win many more honours. The sky is the limit for them. As long as they stay level headed and dont allow distractions such as money and fame to cloud their young minds, they are capable of winning major events, with the Olympics gold their ultimate target.
Q: What is your biggest achievement thus far as a coach?
A: My biggest achievement is probably guiding Kien Keat-Boon Heong from World No 119 to World No 10 after just five Super Series and grand prix tournaments. This needs consistency and it is actually a bigger achievement compared to the Asian Games gold and the All England title. My first success was probably guiding three Malaysian pairs into the semi-finals of the 2006 All England and this was followed by the decision to form the Kien Keat-Boon Heong partnership.
Q: What are your future plans?
A: I would rather not think about that just yet but coaching is expected to be my long term profession. As of now, I will be with the Malaysian team until the Beijing Olympics and will only think about my future plans after that.
Q: Do you expect a better contract (when the present one expires in June)?
A: We have achieved some good results and I will also be taking charge of the mixed doubles. It is natural to expect a better contract but this is not for me to decide. It is not good if I request a salary which my employer is not comfortable with.
Both sides must be happy with the new contract and I leave this matter to my employer, (the BA of Malaysia) to decide.