Interview with Rexy Mainaky
Rexy Ronald Mainaky (born March 9, 1968 in Ternate) is a former men's doubles badminton World champion, All England and Olympic Champion from Indonesia who is often simply known as Rexy. He won the men doubles Olympic gold medal in 1996 and the World Championship in 1995 with Ricky Subagja.
During the 1990s Mainaky and fellow countryman Ricky Subagja formed the most internationally successful team of the decade. Both noted for their quickness and power, Mainaky and Subagja won over thirty international titles together, including all of badminton's major championships at least once. They captured Olympic gold at Atlanta in 1996, the then biennial IBF World Championships in 1995 at Lausanne, Switzerland, and the venerable All-England Championships back to back in 1995 and 1996. A partial listing of their victories includes the China (1992), Indonesia (1993, 1994, 1998, 1999), Malaysia (1993, 1994, 1997), Korea (1995, 1996), and Denmark (1998) Opens; the World Badminton Grand Prix (1992, 1994, 1996), the Badminton World Cup (1993, 1995, 1997), and the quadrennial Asian Games (1994, 1998).
Mainaky and Subagja were bronze medalists at the 1997 IBF World Championships in Glasgow. Mainaky won the 2000 Asian Badminton Championships with another Indonesian doubles maestro, Tony Gunawan. He was a member of consecutive world champion Indonesian Thomas Cup (men's international) teams in 1994, 1996, 1998, and 2000. He was undefeatable for 3 years. Currently the coach of the Malaysia women's doubles team, used to coach men's doubles team.
1. What age did you start playing?
It started out as a hobby when I was 7 years old, my dream is actually to become a footballer. I wasn't in any state badminton team. When I was around 16 years old I represented my province in a national school tournament in Jakarta and there were talent scout that drafted me to the national junior team but just to compete at only junior level, nothing big. It's very hard to represent your country as the level of Indonesia badminton and the competition is very high.
At around 17 years old I was drafted in national junior squad but still not yet representing the country, even after winning singles and doubles in the Asian School Games. Unlike my partner Ricky Subaja has entered the national squad at 15 years old. But at that time I brushed aside my dream to become a footballer and fully focus on badminton.
2. Was it your intention to be a professional player from the start ?
It's about going through these intentions step by step. My first dream is to become the All England Champion as it is a very prestigious title back in Indonesia at around 19 to 20 years old. Then after achieve it, it'll be representing the country in Thomas Cup and then to be World Champion and Olympic Champion.
3. When did you realize you were good enough to be a world beater ?
Around end of 1991, I started to upset well known pairs at that time . During that time there were the 4 pairs that ruled the world, Li Yongbo /Ting Bing Yi, Razif /Jalani Sidek, Eddy Hartono/ Gunawan and Kim Moon Soo/Park Joo Bong. During that time, I've upset the legendary Razif and Jalani Sidek and almost beat the other 3 legendary pairs which gave me the confidence and potential to become a world class player in another 3 years.
4. How were you noticed at the national level ?
Erm, it's quite complicated. As there were a lot of politics among my club and my archrival club.; I was representing Bimantara, now known as Tangkas Alphamat and there were strong political issue between our archrival club; I went for trial to enter the national team, and I was champion in singles and doubles but they wouldn't picked me. They would pick the quarterfinalist of my archrival club.
Then I played in the Indonesia Open, I won the legendary Fung Permadi in singles. Then Christian Hadinata the head coach of Indonesia approached me and he told me that my style of play is suited more on doubles. He said he would draft me in the national squad if I switched to doubles and focus on double. That is when I fully focused on doubles in early 1991 I was drafted to the national team at the age of 23.
5. Which year was you drafted into the national squad ?
23 years old. Early of 1991.
6. Have you ever considered making a name in doubles ?
During my junior years and before I entering the national team, when I was drafted into the national team I focus solely on doubles.
7. Did any of your batch mates made the same grade as you ? If not, what was the reason ?
Well, in singles yes there are a few who even rised to the top earlier than me such as Ardy Wiranata and Haryanto Arbi. There's not many who can make it, none in doubles who is the same batch as me who make it. There were some players stayed in the national for 2 or 3 years then they quit. Probably there's no perseverance, I just stayed committed and discipline; that is where I slowly progressed.
8. How many years were you on the scene?
23 years old to 32 years old. 9 years. I was late to play at the international scene because of politics. I stayed unbeaten for 3 years and then retired as I want to retire at a high level which not many sportsmen are not as lucky as I am.
9. On your playing career which was the highlight of your career?
Winning the World Championhip 1995, Olympic Games 1996 it was my ultimate dream, Winning the All England, World Cup and Asian Games twice and the Thomas Cup 1994,1996,1998 and 2000.
10. Which incident would you consider as a low point of your career?
I would say the 1995 Sudirman Cup final; mixed team event Indonesia vs. China, I was in top form but I didn't get the chance to play in the finals because China planned their matches well as they know their chances in the men's doubles and mixed doubles event are low. So they arranged their matches as some players would play two events. Indonesia lost the tie. I was probably one of the lowest incident in my career.
11. As a coach what is your highlight of your career?
The first highlight would be from my stint in England. I was there for 5 years before moving to Indonesia. I managed to guide Nathan and Gail Emms to be All England Champion, Britain first badminton Olympic silver medallist and another highlight would bringing the level of the juniors to the next level. In Malaysia, my highlight as coach would be grooming Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong from a scratch pair to become Asian Games and All England Champion.
12. How would you summarize your career?
Yes I'm very satisfied as I've given a lot of sacrifices to my success such as I've never had a child hood, everyday would be just training and training.
13. Do you still play? What other sports other than badminton ?
Yes, sometimes do play some small local tournaments just for fun and making new friends. I do play football occasionally.
14. What do you think of the new points scoring system?
I would think the old scoring point system would be better because it test your skills, fitness, and evening. For the 21 point scoring system, it requires a strong mind and whoever is faster and stronger wins. Old scoring systems so much different, in this 21 point scoring system there's limited art of badminton.
15. Which player you admire at the start, both at the local and the international scene ?
Christian Hadinata, he's a champion in different generations and he could partner anyone from different generations. In singles, I would admire Yang Yang. I just love the way he play very cool and steady.
16. As a player, what was your strength ? Weakness, if any ?
Power and speed. Attacking game. For weaknesses, as I grow older I would have trouble playing players like Sigit Budiarto because he's very tricky player. I have trouble catching his shots and recovering from it.
17. Is it important to have a favorite stroke? What was yours then?
Yes, It's important but you can't use your favourite stroke too often. Just as a secret weapon. My favourite stroke would around the head at the front court counter attacking block.
18. Were you good in other sports as well or badminton was just 'it?
I played quite a number of sports and I was pretty good at them such as first football, table tennis, basketball and volleyball. There is this one time, when I was young boy; I was good at football until my grandma wanted to bring to Holland to pursue my football dreams by playing and training at the club over there but my father declined and asked me to focus on badminton.
19. Can you name a few international players, current or retired, who you regard as best or famous for a specific technique or an area of skills?
Thomas Lungard from Denmark for good shuttle placing. Soo Beng Kiang and Yap Kim Hock from Malaysia for their excellent coverage around the net. Cheah Soon Kit from Malaysia as well for his smashing and attacking play.
20. Who do you regard as the all time best player?
I would say Cheah Soon Kit from Malaysia. Even if he partners either Yap Kim Hock or Soo Beng Kiang, this the only combination that really made me to play all out. Not to brag but playing against pairs from China, Denmark and Korea it wouldn't be much a problem to beat them. Cheah Soon Kit really makes me to step up my game and I have to give my all.
21. Who were your coaches during your international days?
Christian Hadinata and Atriac Johari.
22. Can you spell out the difference in coaching styles from China, Malaysia, Denmark and Indonesia? What are their Strengths and Weaknesses?
China and Korea are very focused on power and physical. Malaysia and Indonesia more than less the same. Indonesia players focused a lot on footwork and movement which include a lot shadow exercises and agility. Malaysia players then rely more on techniques and skills. Europeans they are more focused on stroke but now they are adapting Asian style of training.
23. What happened to the sudden change from coaching the men's doubles to the women's doubles department? In the media, they would say Koo and Tan requested to change coach. How's life coaching the women's doubles department?
Well to be honest until now I don't know what's the right reason. From my point of view, this generation of young players they have weak mental strength. When they fail they wouldn't want to blame themselves. Well it's a new challenge for me, my goal would be making the girls players to be notice in the international scene as well as in Malaysia. Now I would say Woon Khe Wei and Wong Pei Tty is the most motivated and hungry for success among the group of women doubles.
24. Do good players make good coaches?
Not necessarily, if he or she is a good player but don't love the sport after he or she retires wouldn't be a good coach. To be a good coach, you must love the sport then you willing to give everything; knowledge, time and experience. Just like a good player you must love the sport and give everything.
25. Any piece of advice would like give those aspiring players?
As soon as you can commit, you must have discipline and attitude then comes the desire to succeed. You must have a dream as well. Discipline and attitude is the most important elements to become a world class player, if you don't have these two elements, you won't have the desire.
26. You are coaching at the moment, whats the diffrence?
As a player all you think about is yourself. Where as a coach, you have solves problems in improving their game. The tricky part is solving their personal problem and especially when they bring their personal problems on court. It's quite stressful, as a coach sometimes you have take 12 players. These 12 players brain has to go into 1 brain. Most of them has different problems because of different character. Sometimes I don't sleep well because thinking of solving their problems in games and personal matters.
27. What are the basic requirements to playing good badminton ?
Footwork and agility movement is very important. Let's say when you have 2 hours training session, 1 and a half hours focus on weaknesses and then the last 30 minutes focus on strength.
28. What's was training regime like when you were playing? How hard did you push yourself?
When I a junior I train 4 times a day. In the morning I would train by myself from 4.30am to 6am.Then 6am to 8 am I would join the group training. From 9am to 12noon I would go to school. My school suppose to end at 3pm, but I skipped school at 12noon. I trained on my own again from 12 to 2pm then from 2pm I'll go for a meal till 2.45pm. After meal I would train with the group from 3pm to 7pm.
29. When you were playing professionally. Were there any stages in your career you went through, that make you had the thought of giving up?
Nope not at all, I don't want it to be a bad habit, I just kept on fighting.
30. Who do you think is current upcoming players in Malaysia?and why?
So far there's no one, but in the women's player I would say Woon Khe Wei and Wong Pei Tty are showing very strong desire and heart.
31. Do you see any players in the world to take over players like Lin Dan , Peter Gade, Lee Chong Wei and etc.?
No one at the moment.
32. As a living legend, what is your vision in Malaysia Badminton and Indonesia badminton?
Well last time, it was always Malaysia and Indonesia used to ruled the world of badminton. Then China learn out methods and improving them to as successful as Malaysia and Indonesia. Now Malaysia and Indonesia have to learn from China. Times change, new methods need to be researched. We can't just relied on Taufik Hidayat or Lee Chong Wei.
33. Is there any ways for BAM to improve their systems for better results on international scene?
Sorry, I prefer not further discussed in this matter. Thank You.
34. Badminton-information.com is planning to start a badminton league. Do you think it will increase the level of Malaysia badminton?Why? Do you support the league?
Good for learning purpose, just like how China and Indonesia invited Lee Chong Wei and Koo/ Tan to their league. Yes I do support the league ofcourse.
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