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Nino Severino: Celebrating the incredible achievement of Scott Sears

PUBLISHED: 16:20 03 January 2018 | UPDATED: 16:20 03 January 2018

Scott Sears at the South Pole after his record-breaking trek. Picture: SCOTT SEARS

Scott Sears at the South Pole after his record-breaking trek. Picture: SCOTT SEARS

Archant

In his latest column, NINO SEVERINO talks about a remarkable achievement for a friend of his on Christmas Day.

Scott Sears walked 700 miles to the South Pole. Picture: SCOTT SEARS Scott Sears walked 700 miles to the South Pole. Picture: SCOTT SEARS

Christmas Day brought some very good news for the British tennis community.

Scott Sears, brother-in-law to Andy Murray, became the youngest person ever – unassisted or supported – to walk 700 miles across the Antarctica to the South Pole.

I suppose I have been closer to this than most, as I consider Nigel Sears, Scott’s dad, a very good friend. I spent 7 years on the WTA World Tennis Tour working with Nigel, while he was Head of British Tennis, and this involved tournaments across the world, including all four Grand Slams, the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open.

I have some incredible memories of this glorious time travelling the world and competing with my wife, Elena Baltacha-Severino.

I have continued to stay in touch with Nigel, who is now an official friend of our foundation, and a very good friend to me.

We have regular breakfasts and lunches, which gives us plenty opportunities to talk all things tennis.

And during one such breakfast in London, we started to talk about his son Scott, who is now a Lieutenant in the First Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles.

I have met Scott on a number of occasions, he is an excellent tennis player and often hit with Elena during some of the big tournaments such as Eastbourne and Wimbledon.

Scott Sears made history with his walk to the South Pole. Picture: SCOTT SEARS Scott Sears made history with his walk to the South Pole. Picture: SCOTT SEARS

I was really shocked when Nigel told me that Scott was preparing for a 700 mile trek in Antarctica, which would take him around five weeks.

I said “That sounds really dangerous Nigel,” to which he replied: “It is Nino, the last man who attempted it died”. That was a real shock to me, as I could only imagine how worried the whole Sears family must have been.

For me, this was just mind-blowing, he was thinking of walking across a mass of land that would be frozen and present some perilous challenges, not least temperatures that can drop to as low as -50C and winds that could reach 160 miles per hour.

It’s the equivalent of walking from Ipswich to John O’Groats dragging 90kgs of potatoes behind you, as I said – mind-blowing!

The whole of Scott’s adventures were covered through some excellent blogs that he had written himself. All them, and some outstanding images, are on his website www.antarcticgurkha.com.

Reading his blog at times was very tough, especially when he wrote that he was only 20 miles or so away from the South Pole, but his body would just not function, he could not take one more step.

To have walked across the Antarctic for 680 miles, endured all that it could throw at him, only to hit the dreaded wall so close to the end, was heartbreaking.

But reading on, it did not surprise me one little bit that he managed to fuel himself up with some chocolate, and by using his music to lift his spirits, he somehow delivered the strength to power on to the pole.

Scott Sears raised more than £30,000 for the Gurkhas on his trek. Picture: SCOTT SEARS Scott Sears raised more than £30,000 for the Gurkhas on his trek. Picture: SCOTT SEARS

Scott said: “I was absolutely chuffed to pieces to finally reach the pole after 38 days alone in a tent, it tested me in ways I never thought possible both physically and mentally.

“I’m immensely proud of the expedition, but serving alongside the Gurkhas will always be my proudest achievement.”

During my time spent with Nigel over the last four years, I know first-hand how important the Gurkha regiment is to Scott, how much of his life he has committed to these brave warriors who have served Britain through some of its toughest wars.

And this expedition was not only for Scott to challenge himself, but also to raise as much money as possible for the Gurkhas.

I salute that Scott raised in excess of £30,000 for the Gurkha Welfare Trust. The money raised will also be donated to the areas that were affected by the earthquake in Nepal in 2015.

I spoke with Nigel constantly over the Christmas period, but the communication that meant the most was the one on Christmas Day, when he found out Scott had made it.

He told me: “When your son tells you he wants to trek to the South Pole on his own unsupported and unassisted it’s hard for any parent to immediately embrace it – and you start to question where you went wrong bringing him up!

“Now that it’s over and I can understand he managed to achieve something very special and for such a good cause, I’m just immensely proud of him and in awe of what he has done.”

If you would like to donate and support Scott’s efforts, visit his website.

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