Mental strength just as vital for success, says Rexy
KUALA LUMPUR: Physically, the shuttlers have been put through the grind. Tactically, they’ve been drilled to the core.
But there’s one other aspect which doubles head coach Rexy Mainaky feels could be difference between success and failure at the Beijing Olympics.
It’s how they cope with their emotions on match day.
“Everything you can think of, we have done it. Physically, we, the coaches, have put all we’ve got to get them ready. It is how they cope with their emotions at that moment that will determine their fate,” said Rexy.
The Beijing-bound players have undergone intensive training the last two months, including enjoying the benefits of sports science – courtesy of the National Sports Institute (NSI).
The shuttlers even sat out competitions to fully focus on their trainings.
In fact, the Beijing Olympic will be the first tournament for doubles pairs Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah and Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong since the Thomas Cup Finals in May.
Rexy believes that mental strength will be crucial, especially with the 21-point rally format to be used at the Olympics for the first time.
Both Malaysian pairs face tough opening hurdles.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong are up against their bogeymen – Japan’s Shuichi Sakamoto-Shintaro Ikeda.
The Malaysians have lost to the Japanese in their last two meetings.
Wan Wah-Tan Fook will be playing against South Korea’s second ranked pair of Lee Jae-jin-Hwang Ji-man.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong are in the top half of the draw with world champions Markis Kido-Hendra Setiawan and title favourites Lee Yong-dae-Jung Jae-sung of China.
Tan Fook-Wan Wah will have to beat China’s top pair of Fu Haifeng-Cai Yun on home ground this time to earn a place in the final.
Despite the tough draw, Rexy believes Kien Keat-Boon Heong and Tan Fook-Wan Wah are equally capable of doing well.
“It is not just tough for Malaysia but for the other countries as well. If our players concentrate on their own game, they have a good chance to beat their opponents,” said Rexy.
“It makes no difference whether we have it easy or tough in our opening matches. You need to beat everyone to become a champion.”
Rexy, a former Olympic champion himself when he represented Indonesia, also advised his charges to put on a show of unity in the presence of their rivals in Beijing.
“Our pairs must not let even the smallest of differences between themselves affect their game. It’s also important that everyone stays together all the time once we check into the Games Village there. My advice to them is to stick together even during meal and resting times,” said Rexy.
“After all, they need to count on each other.”