February 27 - British former squash internationals Peter Nicol and Tim Garner are to raise the profile of their sport's campaign to join the Olympics in 2020 by playing seven matches in seven days on seven different continents.
The Xodus Seven Continent Challenge, inspired by legendary British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes' Land Rover 7x7x7 – seven marathons in seven days on seven continents, will see former world number 26 Garner and four-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Nicol travel more than 40,000 miles and spend over 70 hours on planes over the course of a week that will be a test of endurance both mentally and physically.
Starting in the Falkland Islands on April 13, the Challenge schedule will then encompass Santiago, Sydney, Kuala Lumpur, Cairo, London and New York, emphasising the reach which the sport has worldwide.
"I wanted to come up with something that would highlight the fantastic bid that squash is putting together to join the Olympic programme in 2020 and got thinking about the Seven Marathons Challenge and how that could be adopted," Garner, 42, said.
"This will not only hopefully do that, but will also demonstrate the global universality of the sport.
"It is fantastic to have someone with the profile of Peter Nicol to share it with.
"Hopefully we will start and finish as friends – though I have the feeling we both intend on winning."
Nicol added: "When Tim approached me about the idea I had no hesitation – well, maybe a little – in saying yes.
"Through the course of this bid process, squash has been demonstrating all of its strengths and why it will be a great addition to the Olympic programme and the more people that hear about it the better."
As well as profiling the Olympic bid, the Xodus Seven Continent Challenge will be raising money for two squash causes.
The first is to support squash's inclusion in the LV= SOS Kit Aid Scheme, and the second is for Natasha's Steps, a trust set up help young squash player Natasha Drake who is recovering from an idiopathic bleed on her brain.
"As we continue to grow Xodus globally, it made perfect sense to back the Seven Continent Challenge - given that it covers all the corners of the world," Xodus chief operating officer Stephen Swindell explained.
"We are passionate about sport and squash in particular, as it is accessible to all ages, abilities and in all the countries we operate in.
"Squash has many of the attributes that we look for in the business environment, so are delighted to be able to help with the Olympic bid process in this way."
The official website can be found here.
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