Rexy Ronald Mainaky was born on March 9, 1968, on the Indonesian island of Ternate. He is the third child of a family blessed with seven children. The Mainaky family became well known as a dynastic family of badminton players as Rexy and 4 of his brothers – Marleve, Rionny, Richard and Karel – all became world class players and coaches in their own right.
Despite being immersed in a badminton environment, Rexy wanted to become a football player but his dream was never materialized due to his father’s strong opposition. Young Rexy gave up on his football dream and took up badminton as a hobby at the age of 7 years old. In his teen years, young Rexy showed early maturity through the depth of his commitment to the sport. He would travel 6 hours to attend training and be left with only several hours of sleep to recover before repeating the same grueling schedule. Rexy’s hard work eventually paid off as his results at a tournament in Jakarta garnered him a coveted invitation to attend Ragunan Sports School in that same city. At that time, Rexy was 16 years old.
During his first years at the Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI) training centre, Rexy had trouble adapting. True to his tenacious nature of working hard, Rexy did not give up. Former world champion, Rexy’s idol and coach, Christian Hadinata, took the young Indonesian under his wing and the future Olympic medalist flourished under his guidance.
Rexy seemed to be destined for a career in Men’s Singles after a series of promising victories including a win against Fung Permadi at the 1990 Indonesia Open but he switched permanently to Men’s Doubles in 1991. His coach, Christian Hadinata, had promised Rexy a spot on the senior national team if he switched over to Men’s doubles to partner Ricky Soebagdja. After Rexy’s switch, the duo – later nicknamed Sexy Rexy and Tricky Ricky - quickly gained success with 4 international titles in the last two months of 1992 alone.
Unfortunately, Rexy fell serioulsy ill shortly before the 1993 World Championships and had to withdraw from the tournament. Rexy said that watching his partner, Ricky, win the title with Rudy Gunawan instead of him, was the biggest disappointment in his career. He made up for this disappointment with a very sucessful year in 1994. The Indonesian duo won 7 international titles, amongst which was a gold at the Asian Games.
The pair had much more in reserve and continued their success into 1995. They started the year with 2 back-to-back wins at the Japan and Korea Opens, which were followed by their first victory at the All England in March. In May, all eyes were on Rexy and Ricky at the World Championships in Lausanne. The Indonesians lived up to their seeding by displaying a convincing win in the final against Thomas Lund and Jon Holst-Christensen of Denmark.
On their way to the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, the duo collected many more international titles, such as their second consecutive title at the All England. Ricky and Rexy were unshaken until they met their archrivals, Cheah Soon Kit and Yap Kim Hock, in the ultimate showdown. The Indonesians dropped their first game of the tournament but prevailed with the score of 5-15, 15-13, 15-12. Rexy fell to the ground with tears of joy before Christian Hadinata joined him on the court in celebration.
The Indonesians had an uncanny ability to produce points out of thin air, get out of trouble at will and ooze with confidence as only a perfect pair could. They were the incarnation of speed and power. Rexy and Ricky formed a pair that was superior to the sum of both parts: unshakeable confidence, harmonic understanding, great communication, and invincible at both the net and the back of the court.
Rexy is very much loved for both his on court and off court personality. In contrast to Ricky, Rexy was more exuberant and playful on the court. Even with his playful personality, Rexy was the epitome of fair play and courtesy. He was one of the few players who thanked line judges and moppers alike. Even at the height of his career, the Indonesian athlete graciously took advice from fans.
“You have to accept other people. It doesn’t matter where they come from – even if they don’t know the game but they come to the court because they like to watch badminton. And if they come and give you something, you have to take it because sometimes they might be right.”
Being very modest about his achievements and skills, Rexy was always eager to improve: “Our attitude and discipline made us a success. Even (when) we already started winning the tournaments and kept winning and winning, we thought we still needed to learn a lot to become more established players.”
This way of thinking seemed to have worked as Rexy and Ricky won the 1995 World Championships, both 1995 and 1996 editions of the All England and the memorable 1996 Olympic Games during their peak in 1995 and 1996. Rexy and Ricky also won the Asian Games twice (1994 and 1998) and the World Grand Prix Finals on 3 occasions (1992, 1994 and 1996). Among many other titles, they also made their mark at the World Cup (1993, 1995, 1997), and an amazing 4 times at the Indonesia Open (1993, 1994, 1998 and 1999).
Rexy was on the national team from 1991 to 2000 and helped Indonesia win each of their 4 consecutive Thomas Cups from 1994 to 2000. It was to no one’s surprise when Rexy was chosen to be the flagbearer of the Indonesian team at the 2000 Olympic Games.
The last international title of his career was the 2000 Asian Badminton Championships with Tony Gunawan, his only title without Ricky Soebagdja. Surprinsingly, despite his impressive international resume, Rexy never won a national title, only reaching the finals on one occasion.
After his playing career, Rexy was sollicited to become their national team coach by various associations. It was with England that he first served as a coach and led Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms to a silver medal at the 2004 Olympic Games.
“It’s not easy being a coach,” says Rexy. “It is much harder than being a player where you basically have to think only about yourself. As a coach, you have to understand the player’s feelings and if you have 20 players, you have to think for 20 heads.”
After his years in England, he was appointed to the Malaysian team as mostly as a Men’s Doubles coach. He stayed 7 years in Malaysia but resigned in 2012 due to his disappointment for failing to bring a World Championship title or Olympic medal to the country. After his resignation, he moved to the Philippines to serve a two-year contract.
After his contract with the Philippines, Rexy moved back to his home country. It only took him a few months to help Indonesia regain its world supremacy in badminton. Joined by other badminton greats such as Susy Susanti, Rexy has been serving the PBSI as a High Performance Director since 2012.
Rexy’s days as a competitive player may be over but he is never very far from the court. He is also well known for his involvement in social and charitable activities. Rexy is the Indonesian Coach Ambassador for Solibad, a non-profit badminton charity.
In 2009, Rexy was inducted into the BWF Hall of Fame along with his longtime partner, Ricky Soebagdja.
2009 – BWF Hall of Fame (with partner Ricky Soebagdja)
BIBLIOGRAPHY & REFERENCES
Apa & Siapa (Sabaruddin Sa.)
Badminton Asia (Magazine)
Badminton Xtreme (Magazine)
Badminton Handbook (Bernd-Volker Brahms)
Badminton Magazine Japan (Magazine)
International Badminton – the first 75 years
World Badminton (Magazine)
World Championships 2015 Official Programme
-- By Yves Lacroix