THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Arjuna award winner K Udayakumar, ace volleyball player of the eighties who had gifted many dream victories for the nation and the state, passed away on Friday after a massive cardiac arrest.
He was 54. A Deputy Commandant of Kerala Police, Udayakumar was ADC to various Governors who had served the state for the past eight years. He collapsed around 11 am in his office in the Raj Bhavan. Though he was rushed to a private specialty hospital, death caught up with him.
His mortal remains will be placed in the Raj Bhavan on Saturday from 9 am and after some time at the Chandrasekharan Nair Stadium here to enable the public to pay homage. Cremation will be held with state honours at Mararikulam in Alappuzha district, in the evening. He is survived by wife Lekha, a school teacher and daughters Anjali and Pallavi. He is the son of Karunakara Kurup and Ammini Amma of Parampil House in Mararikulam.
One among the genre of the late Jimmy George and Cyril C Valloor, who had rewritten the Indian volleyball scene into a golden era in the eighties, Udayakumar had enthralled the ground and admirers for more than a decade and carved a niche for him. As one who rose from junior to senior teams in the state and national level, he had also held captaincy. As a member of the Indian Junior team, Udayakumar took part in the Junior Asian Championship in 1980 and a year later led the team in the World Junior Championship at Colorado Springs in the US.
Under his leadership, the Kerala Volleyball team lifted the Federation Cup in 1981. He had been in the Indian team in four Asian Championships. In 1989, he led the Indian team in the SAF Games and returned with the silver cup. He was also part of the Indian volleyball team which kissed the Gold cup in the SAF Games in 1991.
He donned the role of a coach of the volley team of Dubai for a while, but came back in 1996 and became part of the Kerala team. Taking into account his contributions to the Indian Volleyball, the nation had honoured him with the Arjuna award in 1991. He is also a recipient of the G V Raja award (1989) and Jimmy George award (1989).
Udayakumar had been ADC to seven Governors, including incumbent P Sathasivam. As with his volleys and encounters in the field, he used to quickly adapt to the personal traits and behaviour patterns of changing heads in the Raj Bhavan.
Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala mourned the death of Udayakumar and in a condolence message, he observed that his passing away is a big loss to the sports scene of the state and the country. Tiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, Minister for Forests, Environment, Transport, Sports and Cinema also condoled the untimely death of the Arjuna awardee.