Log In

Reset Password

Kyme ready to drink in all Lima has on offer

Making the most of it: Nick Kyme feared his career was over after missing two years of squash because of a calf injury (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Nick Kyme feared he would never play squash again because of a recurring calf injury that kept him off the court for two long and frustrating years.

Kyme paints a bleak picture of that period of inactivity during which he gained about 25 pounds, but he now considers those wilderness years as more of a blessing than a curse.

Without that setback, he believes he would not fully appreciate what he had before his injury, but also what lies ahead as he prepares to fulfil his ambition of playing at the Pan American Games.

“I thought I was done,” Kyme said. “[The injury] was kind of a blessing because it made me appreciate what I had. Everything now is a bonus.

“I’ve never been to Pan Ams and I want to take it all in. I want to do it properly.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing and most people will never get to experience it. I want to make sure I make the most of it.”

What started as an innocuous training injury turned into a two-year nightmare for the 38-year-old, who admits his desire to return to the court meant he repeatedly rushed back too soon.

“Those were two brutal years of my life,” Kyme said. “By the end of it, I looked at the scales and I was 25 pounds heavier than I had ever been. I remember thinking, ‘This is just not on’.

“It was incredibly frustrating and that was part of the problem. I kept on trying to come back too soon. It wasn’t just squash, I couldn’t even jog across the street.

“It was a low point of my life. I had young children at the time and that kept me going. I felt very bad, very down.” A veteran of five Commonwealth Games, Kyme was among the region’s top ten players during his peak, but the Pan Am Games always remained out of reach, with countries having to qualify as a team rather than as individuals.

It is only now with Micah Franklin and Noah Browne on the scene that Bermuda could assemble a strong enough crop to qualify for the multi-sport event.

They did so at the Pan Am Squash Championships in Cayman Islands last September, when they had to finish in the top 12 and claimed the final berth with a 2-0 win over the British Virgin Islands.

“It’s still a big thrill to go to these big events, but this one is a bit different,” added Kyme, who will be in action in the singles competition tomorrow.

“My first Commonwealths [in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1998] I was only 17. I was trying to soak it all up; it was the most amazing experience of my life.

“However, I’ve always wanted to go to Pan Am. Now with Noah and Micah, I’m actually giving it a go. It’s quite nice being the No 3 [seed]; the only problem is I now have to carry the bags!”

It was Franklin who encouraged Kyme to become the third cog in the Bermuda squash wheel at the CAC Games as they set their sights on becoming the island’s first team to qualify for Pan Am.

It was just the type of carrot Kyme needed dangling in front of him, and he approached the comeback trail with a single-minded determination that he might not have otherwise done.

“It took me a good six months to get where I could comfortably go on the court and another six months for me to get where I wanted to be,” he said.

“About 18 months ago, Micah said, ‘We’re going to CACs in six months and we need a third man on the team’. I thought, ‘I could be No 3, I’ve never been No 3’. I’ve always been No 1; the sacrificial lamb at the top.

“At the time, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to push [the injury]. I thought, ‘if I push it and tear it completely, will I ever ... That would have required major reconstructive surgery.

“I call [Franklin and Browne] the boys and they really pulled me along. I actually owe them a lot.”

A former world No 63, Kyme is surprised with how well he has played since returning to fitness. A gruelling schedule of squash awaits in Lima, though, and he is unsure how his body will react to the load.

“I’m good for a couple of matches, but when we get to day five or six, my body just doesn’t recover like it used to,” he added.

“They have to pack as much squash in as they can, as you only have so much time [at a multi-sport event]. Managing and listening to your body will be key. However, it’s the Pan Am Games; I’m going to push on through.”

Kyme, who will double up as team manager, expects to renew acquaintances with one or two old faces in Lima from his days on the Professional Squash Association World Tour.

“There’s one guy from Brazil, Rafa [Alarcon]. He’s amazing and is actually older than me,” he said. “Every now and again I run into one of the guys I used to play against and he’s now coaching. I’m like, ‘This is just wrong!’”

Having spent five years on the punishing treadmill of the PSA World Tour, Kyme sometimes wonders what might have been had he afforded himself more time to climb the rankings.

“I got to a crossroads,” he remembers. “It was either I double-down and go to a major training camp or [quit]. If you don’t make it, you’re just spending money and you’re not going anywhere.

“I had to make a choice. Sometimes I see a guy in the top five who I used to beat and I regret it.

“Other times, I remember how miserable I was on the tour, stuck in a random country by myself and not knowing the language, wondering, ‘What am I doing here?’ I tip my hat to anyone who does it. It’s not easy.”