KUALA LUMPUR: Disabled athletes with disabilities face hardships in their lives, but to make matters worse, a volunteer wheelchair tennis coach attached with the national team was recently jailed for sodomising underage ballboys.
Nik Muhd Nik Ibrahim, who had volunteered with the national setup for the past seven years, was arrested at the National Tennis Centre in Jalan Duta on Sept 21, the final day of the Kuala Lumpur Asean Para Games (Para KL2017) wheelchair tennis competition.
The Malaysian Organising Committee had appointed the coach as the head ball person for the tournament.
Wheelchair Tennis Malaysia (WTM) president Lenny Ghandi said it was devastated on hearing the news.
“We were shocked, saddened and angry,” Lenny said yesterday.
“The incident did not involve any national athletes and happened at the coach’s home, not at the competition venue nor the athletes’ official hotel.
“He was a volunteer and not a salaried coach under the National Sports Council.
“His main role with the national team was to coach and scout for players.”
Lenny said WTM had no clue what Nik was up to and when the news of his arrest broke, the association was devastated because the coach had carried out his responsibilities well.
“As a para sport, we have struggled to find sponsors over the years and needed help from volunteers. The coach has carried out his duties well over the years and has been a big help.
“He never took advantage of any of us during his time with the national team.
“We knew that he had a small tennis academy to train able-bodied players and ballboys in Segambut, but had no idea about his personal life. To find out what he did was heartbreaking.”
Lenny said the incident cast a shadow on what had been a historic moment for the country at the Asean Para Games.
“We won two gold medals on the day he was arrested. It was the first time Malaysia had won gold in tennis at either the Sea Games or Asean Para Games.
“It (winning two gold) was the proudest moment of my life.
“It took a lifetime of work to achieve it and what he did just destroyed us. We couldn’t even celebrate, you cannot describe what we felt with words.”
Malaysia won two gold through Abu Samah Borhan (men’s singles) and Azman Hasan (quad singles) at Para KL2017.
Malaysia bagged two gold, one silver and three bronze to emerge as overall winners of the wheelchair tennis competition.