If you don’t like the smell of sweat, then sitting near the front at the Legends of Squash tournament probably isn’t for you. But if you like good, clean (well, not that clean) fun, then it definitely is.
However, this is serious business for Bermudian national champion Micah Franklin, who exceeded all expectations when he defeated Nick Taylor, the top-ranked over-45 player in the world, on Tuesday night on his Legends debut.
Nevertheless, for the spectator in particular, there is something quite delightful about “exhibition” events such as these. The camaraderie and the laughs are all part of the show,
On Wednesday night, with David Palmer prone after slipping and falling, Franklin literally took his eye off the ball and simply missed a sure-fire winner as it rebounded off the glass. A split-second loss of concentration meant a loss of a point. “What just happened?” he pleaded, jokingly, to the partisan home crowd. They didn’t know either.
Make no mistake, though, this tournament is no mere “exhibition” for Franklin — a 24-year-old from Spanish Point with a burgeoning professional career. He may be 20-odd years younger than the rest of the competitors at the Bermuda Squash Racquets Association this week, but Palmer was world champion in 2002 and 2006 and he still has that touch of class that helped him to a win over Our Micah in straight games.
It is clear that Franklin is by no means out of his depth and competing against guys like Palmer will help him move up from his present world ranking of 149.
Franklin is one of a slew of Bermudians making a name for themselves on the world sporting stage. Zeiko Lewis and Oneko Lowe are both in the Big Apple; Lowe, of course, was part of the Bermuda team who participated in the Concacaf Under-20 Championship a couple of months ago. Delray Rawlins is the first Bermudian to play in England’s County Championship after being England Under-19’s best player in India. Flora Duffy is a world champion triathlete and Nahki Wells is tantalisingly close to the Premier League. Add our outstanding return from the Carifta Swimming Championships and it is clear that this could well be a golden period for Bermudian sport. Apparently, there’s something boaty going in Dockyard pretty soon, too.
Those people all started somewhere and there are plenty of places to get involved and play or support, whether it be St John’s Field, where Wells emerged with Dandy Town Hornets, or Devonshire Rec, where Rawlins played for St George’s in the Mini Cup Match ten years ago, to the netball courts at Bernard Park, the basketball courts at CedarBridge to the hockey and rugby pitches at the National Sports Centre.
Indeed, Franklin is testament to the BSRA’s development programme. Palmer himself said: “I think your development programme is amazing.”
Franklin used to be one of the Legends’ “Court Rats” — the kids who have the very important job of mopping up the players’ sweat in between points and games.
“I’ve gone from cleaning up their sweat to sweating with them,” Franklin told the crowd on Wednesday night.
And the rise of Franklin and all of Bermuda’s young sports stars goes to show that there are not many sweeter smells than the honest stench of sweat.