By: K.M. Boopathy
NATIONAL doubles coach Rexy Mainaky has challenged Koo Kien-Tan Boon Heong to better everything he did with Ricky Subagja.
If they do, and Rexy believes the pair have the ability to do it, Kien Keat-Boon Heong could well become the legends that Ricky-Rexy and South Korean pair Park Joo Bong-Kim Moon Soo are.
If the Koreans ruled the early 1990s, Ricky-Rexy ruled the second half of the decade and this is what he wants the Malaysian pair to do.
''I want them to do better than me as that will be my ultimate satisfaction as a coach. This is the same thing which was told to me by my mentor Christian (Hadinata), and it became my driving force,'' said Rexy.
''They have started winning but they must keep learning all the time. They have been on the podium and they must always have the desire to get on to podium again and again.''
''They have just embarked on the path to achieve more greatness and there should no distractions, arrogance or lack of effort until they reach the ultimate goal which is to become the Olympic champions.''
Rexy should know for as a player, he won every possible honour.
Ricky-Rexy won the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, 1995 World Championships, All England (1995,96), Asian Games (1994, 98) and were the World No 1 between 1994 and 1996. They also won 30 international grand prix titles.
The only pair who can claim to have done better than Ricky-Rexy were Joo Bong-Moon Soo, who won the 1992 Barcelona Olympics gold, World Championships (1985 and 1991), the All England four times and more than 30 grand prix titles.
But Rexy believes Kien Keat-Boon Heong are capable of upstaging his achievements.
''The current 21-point system is not so much about physical strain but the mental exhaustion is great and this is where the motivation and support from every quarter comes into place.''
''Their efforts should be recognised but the limelight should not go to their heads. They realise this and I hope that other parties can work together with us so that they are not sidetracked from their tasks.''
While the Asian Championships in Johor Baru next month will be their next assignment, the major one this year is the World Championships in Kuala Lumpur in August.
Given their awesome display in the All England and Swiss Open, the pair are surely the favourites but Rexy said victory wonít come on a platter.
''They still have to work very hard.''
The pair realise it too and they vowed that they wonít get caught up in the celebrations and adulation that are sure to follow.
''The welcoming party (on Tuesday) was overwhelming but we realise that there is still so much to achieve. I canít even think of emulating Rexy as we still have so much to learn,'' said Kien Keat, 21.
''I wonít say that we have become the favourites to win the World Championship but we know where we stand. We want to keep winning titles but we realise that there will be days when we lose but we have to keep focused on the world championships.''
Boon Heong, 19, echoed his partnerís sentiment.
''We are still a long way from what Rexy achieved but what the back-to-back triumphs have done is boost my confidence. When we won the All England, I was satisfied but I never expected to win the Swiss Open as well.''
''This has boosted my confidence and my target it to continue working hard and winning honours.''
Who knows where that might lead though Rexy is confident his young charges will do exactly what he thinks they can ó upstage his achievements. (nst.co.my)