Seven days. Seven continents. That's quite a way to squash a world record.
Peter Nicol describes the last seven days as "an exception week" in his life.
"Exceptional" is one way to describe what Nicol and Tim Garner finished Saturday at Chelsea Piers in Stamford. The pair of former nationally ranked squash players completed a weeklong journey around the world to showcase the game.
"The idea is to show that squash is played in every continent, and there's communities in every continent that are passionate about the sport," Nicol says. "And it's certainly done that."
Stamford was the last leg of a trip that included stops in London, Kuala Lumpur and the Falkland Islands. The idea behind it all was to showcase the game's popularity. Because ultimately, Nicol and Garner want squash in the 2020 Olympics.
"For the top players in the world, an Olyimpic gold [medal] would mean everything," Nicol says. "I would trade my world number one, my British Open, my U.S. Open titles for an Olympic gold."
"Squash players are some of the greatest athletes in the world," says Natalie Grainger, squash director at Chelsea Piers and a former world No. 1 herself. "You need to be fast, you need to be agile, you need to have great strength."
"With two players on the court, it's gladiatorial, but it's also fair," Nicol says. "There's an etiquette about the game that I think fits the Olympic ideal."
Besides what the athletes are all about, Grainger says, the sport is "truly global." Over 200 players turned out to celebrate Saturday. Nicol says that shows squash has plenty of support behind it.
"Squash deserves to be in because it's a global sport -- played and enjoyed all around the world," Nicol says.
"So many people care," Grainger says. "We really want squash to be an Olympic sport."
"We've made those differences where we can go back to the International Olympic Committee," Nicol says. "We can say we've made the changes. We are the sport you want."
The Seven Continent Challenge also raised money for two charities. You can learn more about those and read personal blog entries from Garner and Nicol online at www. 7continentchallenge.com.