Last few tickets
Another Classic at Canary Wharf
Canary Wharf Classic is one of the best events on the PSA
tour. Expertly and congenially run by the Eventis team,
Peter Nicol, Tim Garner and Angus Kirkland, alongside Alan
Thatcher, it has given appreciative crowds many memorable
matches in its five year existence.
But not in their wildest dreams could Eventis have imagined
that the 2009 entry would be the top world class draw it is.
Karim Darwish and Ramy Ashour are missing, but Amr Shabana,
Gregory Gaultier, James Willstrop, David Palmer, Thierry
Lincou and Nick Matthew are all there.
There are heavyweight clashes in the first round, notably
Willstrop v Laurens Anjema and Lincou against Borja Golan,
but the potential quarter final line up would do justice to
any event in the world: Shabana v Matthew, Willstrop v
Lincou, Palmer v El Hindi and Gaultier v Barker.
After coming off against Matthew in New York, Shabana will
be looking to put things right, but my guess is that the
last person he would want to meet in the last eight is
Matthew, who is in the form of his life and is devilishly
hard to beat just now.
Willstrop and Lincou played the first ever final at Canary
Wharf, best of seven that was, and with question marks over
the well being of the Englishman, the match is hardly going
to be easy for him, remembering that both have to overcome
severe first round obstacles.
Palmer and El Hindi is a heavyweight clash, and Barker, another who has been unwell, will find
Gaultier, who has claims on form to being the world's best,
hard to get past.
All those associated with the event must be rubbing their
hands in glee and it is nothing more than they deserve. I
know that there is a credit crunch and we are in financial
heartland, but the entry certainly warrants a hike in prize
money, if there is a beneficent fair godfather or godmother,
of course, on hand.
It wouldn't seem appropriate to let
Lee Beachill's retirement
from the PSA world tour to pass without me paying a personal
tribute to him - though I have to emphasise this is no
Just that sportsmen have their time and Lee's has been
reduced, sadly, by a couple of years because of the severity
of his knee problems. There had been no other signs, other
than the knee, that his powers had diminished in any way;
indeed he hits the ball as well, if not better than he has
ever done. I had hoped he might make the next Commonwealth
Games in a bid for a third gold medal, but he took his leave
in Manchester, the scene of some of his greatest triumphs,
with a record in the British Championships second to none.
The Early Days
Lee was sent to me at the age of nine by Tim Heeley,
who was Lee's first coach and recognised his potential. Tim
was right, too, because he quickly showed he had unusual
ability. I remember clearly, when working with him that he
always seemed a move ahead.
He soon started challenging the best players in his age
group and after I banned him for a month - most of my best
players get a ban - for a display of petulance after a loss.
He came back and for the rest of his career hardly put a
foot wrong in behavioural terms.
Lee won every British age group Junior title, the
European U19 championship, but in the World Junior
Championships in Cairo in 1996 he was physically abused by
El Mistakawi, an Egyptian, receiving no protection from the
referee, losing in the quarter finals. Amr Shabana, Anthony
Ricketts and Stewart Boswell all played and none of them
won, so he was in good company.
began a magnificent senior career: World no.1,
British champion twice in a row - never before achieved
- double Commonwealth gold medalist and England
captain when they won the World Team Championships in
Chennai. Amidst all that many other successes at the highest
levels and missing out on the World Open by the narrowest of
margins, losing 3-2 to Thierry Lincou in the final.
His successes have been achieved in the most competitive
era: Peter Nicol, Jonathan Power, David Palmer, Thierry
Lincou, Anthony Ricketts, Amr Shabana, John White, Karim
Darwish, Gregory Gaultier, James Willstrop, Nick Matthew and
Family ties & the Future
Close as has been, and still is, my relationship with Lee,
players do not succeed at world level without the support of
many: Peter Nicol, David Campion. James Willstrop, Ian
Horsley, Mick Todd .... and ,of course parents Sue and
Malcolm, always supportive, Nicola, Jessica and Ben....
The name Beachill may not be missing long on the playing
front: four year old Ben and ten year old Jessica are both
showing much promise.
Where to now? Well he did enough as President of PSA
to show he has much to offer the game; he will be available
more often to play top league squash and that will be a boon
for Pontefract, so not totally lost as a player. I am sure
he will find a way to stay involved in the game, which will
be mutually beneficial.
As his coach he has given me some of my very best moments in
squash: his control of the ball [and opponents], his ability
to delay, the ease of movement and production of the racket
all made him a player on whom young players can model
I have much to thank him for, not least his faith in me, his
loyalty, his steadfastness and example to others around him.
It is by no means the end, just an end or better the
beginning of the next phase of his squash life.
Think of Emma
Sport may be one of life's trivia, but for those striving
for excellence or personal fulfilment, it involves much
heartache, losing, at least for a while being hard to take.
So it should be, for if losing doesn't hurt, it is unlikely
there exists a winner. I suppose it reflects life in
dramatic form, but the British Championship was lightened by
the presence of Emma Pearson, David's daughter.
Wheelchair bound, she greeted everyone by name with a smile
and obvious delight.
David, stressed, watching Jenny, his step daughter in her
semi final, grew more stessed she tells someone:
"He needs to relax". and then in his nervous agitation, as
he heads for the toilet she asks, "Is he going to the toilet
David told me in the week running up to the championship she
rang him frequently, inquiring about his well being.
She clearly sees him as the one with problems and she may be
right; she is uncomplaining, delightful, indeed beautiful,
accepting life's cards as they have been unkindly dealt, an
example to us all.
So next time you lose, remember Emma ...