Jakarta. When Thailand reached the final of the Uber Cup for the first time in May this year, the man behind the team's long-awaited success was none other than Indonesian badminton legend Rexy Mainaky.
The Thai women's team beat superpower China 3-2 in the semifinals in Bangkok, thanks to singles players Ratchanok Intanon, Nitchaon Jindapol and Busanan Ongbamrungphan, who contributed all three of the host nation's points.
Before overcoming China, Thailand also saw off Indonesia in the quarterfinals, which pitted Rexy, the Thai team's technical director, against fellow countrywoman Susi Susanti, technical and development chief at the Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI).
"I must give the Indonesian players credit, as they put up quite a fight," Rexy said after the match, as reported by CNN Indonesia.
However, despite a 0-3 loss against Japan in the final, Thailand recorded its best achievement ever in the annual tournament, which first took place in 1957.
Rexy, who trained at the PBSI's elite national camp, retired from badminton in 2001. He and his partner, Ricky Subagja, are regarded as Indonesia's best men's doubles pair of all time, having won gold in most major events during the 1990s.
This includes the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, 1998 Asian Games and All England Open Badminton Championships in 1995 and 1996. The pair also won the Thomas Cup in 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2000.
Indonesia last won the Thomas Cup in 2002.
Aside from these achievements, Rexy and Ricky were very popular in that era with their attractive play style.
Right after his retirement, Rexy joined Badminton England for a four-year stint as national head coach, before accepting a position to develop Malaysia's elite shuttlers.
In 2012, Rexy accepted an offer from the Philippine Badminton Association, but only stayed for a short spell. He returned to Indonesia in 2013 after working abroad as an elite badminton coach for more than a decade.
"My wife said, 'the lost child has come back,'" Rexy told Kompas.com at the time.
In early 2013, Rexy accepted an offer from then-chairman Gita Wirjawan to lead the PBSI's technical and development division – the post currently occupied by Susi.
Rexy's most prestigious achievement as PBSI technical and development chief is Indonesia winning its only gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, courtesy of mixed doubles pair Liliyana Natsir and Tontowi Ahmad.
"He's always full of ideas and interesting solutions," former PBSI secretary general Koesdarto said about Rexy in 2012, as reported by state-run news agency Antara.
"We all know that whenever he coaches a nation abroad, it suddenly starts to show robust development."
During his first spell as England coach, Rexy helped mixed doubles pair Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms win silver at the 2004 Athens Olympics, which has been the nations' highest badminton achievement in Olympic history.
In Malaysia, Rexy became one of the country's longest-serving foreign coaches. Men's singles player Lee Chong Wei won silver medals in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics under Rexy's direction.
However, current PBSI chairman Wiranto, who is also Indonesia's chief security minister, decided not to extend Rexy's contract in 2016, resulting in the 50-year-old coach taking up his existing position in Thailand early last year.
After developing Thailand's elite shuttlers for more than a year, his efforts have now started to bear fruit.
"He has not only improved our players technically, but also taught them to confidently struggle until the end of every match," said Khunying Patama Leeswadtrakul, chairwoman of the Badminton Association of Thailand.