KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 3 — The passing of former National Sports Council (NSC) director-general Datuk Seri Zolkples Embong is a huge loss to the country’s sports fraternity and will leave a deep impact on every individual who had worked with him.
None more so than his successor Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail, who described Zolkples as his “mentor, brother and close friend”.
“He would always give us comments and guidance even when he was no longer with the NSC. His demise is a great loss to the country’s sports fraternity because he used to contribute ideas, which triggered new athlete training and development programmes.
Zolkples, 62, who lived alone, was found dead in his residence in Pandan Indah this morning but police had ruled out foul play.
Zolkples, who held the post of NSC director-general from 2007 to 2014, was also the Malaysian chef de mission for the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China and 2012 London Paralympics.
Meanwhile, his nephew Fauzi Ghazalli, 26, said he had gone to Zolkples’ residence with the police this morning after failing to contact his uncle since last night and found Zolkples’ body on the floor in the kitchen.
Fauzi said his uncle was a stickler for punctuality besides being very close with their families.
Former Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, who expressed his condolences to Zolkples’ family, also admitted that he had learned a lot about the world of sports from Zolkples.
“I have lost a friend and a teacher who taught me so much about the world of sports. He had contributed a lot to the development of sports in the country, including cycling, which has produced many world-class riders,” he said in a post on his Facebook page.
Another former Youth and Sports Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin, in his tweet, said Zolkples not only contributed to the development of sports domestically but also at the regional level.
Khairy said he too had the opportunity to gain experience and work together with Zolkples when he (Zolkples) was the chief executive officer of the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games organising committee.
Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) president Datuk Abu Samah Abdul Wahab, when contacted by Bernama, said Zolkples was a stern character throughout his time leading the NSC.
He said Zolkples also played a key role in helping to further expand the talent of national track cycling ace Datuk Mohd Azizulhasni Awang.
“He (Zolkples) was stern but always willing to discuss and assist sports associations if we had any problems. He also played a big role in lifting Azizulhasni’s reputation at the international stage as well as that of the country’s track cycling, generally,” he said.
Zolkples was not only popular among the country’s sports stakeholders, but his wisdom and eloquence made him one of the country’s famous sports analysts who was much sought after by the media as well.
Former Bernama Sports Desk head Farhanah Azmi said that although Zolkples had a stern demeanor, members of the media found it easy to approach and contact him.
“As far as I know during my time at the Sports Desk, he had tackled many important issues. The one thing he absolutely disliked was that of national athletes being involved in doping issues.
“I got to know him better when he was the Malaysian chef de mission for the 2012 London Paralympics. He would greet the athletes every day and would always advise them to stay focused,” said Farhanah.
Another former Bernama sports reporter, Zuriati Zulmi described Zolkples as an outspoken person who often gave valid views for the sake of the country’s sports development while, at the same time, taking a firm stand in matters related to sports.
“His demise will surely be felt. Personally, I was waiting for his comment on the success of our young shuttlers in making it to the semi-finals of the ongoing Sudirman Cup (in Vantaa, Finland),” she said. — Bernama