has enjoyed an illustrious squash career, achieving three ambitions he set
himself some years ago - winning the British Open, reaching world No1, and
becoming world champion.
In March 2001, he made headline news around the world when he announced that
he was ‘defecting’ from his Scottish country of birth to become English!
Nicol’s rise through the world squash rankings was little short of
meteoric: He made his debut at 266 in January 1992. He raced to 52 by the
following January, then rose to 14 twelve months later, moving into the top
five by November of the same year, before hitting the No1 position in
Born in Inverurie, near
Aberdeen in Scotland, the left-hander won his first PSA Tour title in 1992.
By September 1994, he was competing in his first Super Series final - the
Hong Kong Open, in which he lost to world No1 Jansher Khan.
It was in February 1998
that he became the first Briton ever to reach No1 in the PSA world rankings
– thereby deposing his long-time rival Jansher Khan, who had held the
position for an almost unbroken period of ten years.
As world No1, Nicol was
top seed for the 1998 British Open for the first time. He cruised through
to the final without dropping a game, then triumphantly beat Jansher in the
final. Nicol achieved this historic success on his 25th birthday, trouncing
Pakistan’s six-times defending champion in straight games in front of a
packed auditorium at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham to become the
first Briton for 25 years to win the prestigious British Open title.
In the men's final of the
Commonwealth Games in Malaysia in September 1998 - squash's triumphant debut
in this prestigious multi-sport event - Nicol beat his long-time adversary
Jonathon Power to take the first ever squash gold medal in a match screened
live on TV in Britain and many countries around the world.
In September 1999, Nicol
fulfilled his last remaining key goal in squash: It was his third
successive appearance in the final, but on the famous open-air court erected
on the desert sands by the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, Nicol crushed
local hero Ahmed Barada 15-9 15-13 15-11 to become World Open champion for
the first time.
In the 2002 Commonwealth
Games in Manchester, England, in July, Peter was seeded to become the first
athlete to retain his singles gold medal - for a different country. He
reached the final without dropping a game, but fell Power in the final, in
four games, in his fourth successive loss to the Canadian in the year.
Nicol went on to partner
Lee Beachill to gold medal success in the Men’s Doubles – becoming the only
person to win gold medals both in 1998 and 2002, and one of only two (with
England’s Cassie Jackman) to win two medals in each Games.
By his remarkable
standards, 2003 was not Nicol’s best year on the PSA Tour. Despite winning
the Tournament of Champions, US Open and Canadian Open, and reaching the
final of the British Open, the former Scot ended his two-year unbroken reign
as world No1 by appearing in the unlikely position of No3 in the PSA list on
1st January 2004.
Quickly back to his best,
Nicol lifted the Kuwait Open trophy in January 2004. Two weeks later he
suffered a setback when he was forced to withdraw from his semi-final match
in the British National Championships, suffering from extreme exhaustion.
He staged a remarkable
recovery and less than ten days later was back in action in the Tournament
of Champions in New York. Seeded three, he reached the semi-finals without
dropping a game, then beat Power 3/0 (extending his life-time tally against
his Canadian rival to 20-17) to make the final for the fourth successive
year. Incredibly, he beat No2 seed John White – who would become world No1
for the first time the following month – in straight games to claim the
title for the third time.
In April, fresh from a
two-week charity trek in the Himalayas, Nicol stormed through the field of
the PSA Masters in Qatar to beat David Palmer in four games in the final –
and the following month reclaimed his world number one ranking.
In September, Nicol
achieved a notable milestone when he celebrated his 60th month at
the top of the world rankings - and duly stormed through to the final of the
US Open in Boston later in the month.
After a disappointing
start to the New Year in the USA, where he was a first round casualty in the
Windy City Open in Chicago, Peter regrouped in the Dayton Open to cruise
through to the final where he beat Amr Shabana in straight games to collect
the 49th PSA Tour title of his career, in his 68th
achievements in squash were recognised in the most distinctive manner in
June 1999 – when he was awarded an MBE (‘Member of the British Empire’) by
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in the annual ‘Queen’s Birthday Honours’. He
joins a distinguished group of squash players who have been similarly
recognised in Britain – including Jonah Barrington, Lisa Opie, Martine le
Moignan, Susan Devoy and Cassie Jackman.