March 20, 2021 4 min read
When I reflect on 2020, I still cannot really get my head round how much life changed. My heart goes out to all those families who have lost loved ones because of Covid-19. I also want to send strength to people who have been hit hard by the lockdowns. Many people have lost their jobs or cannot work. During the World Championships I worked with a charity in London called Beam (@wearebeam) who crowd-fund new career opportunities for people who have become homeless. Listening to some of the stories was really humbling and a reminder to me that we all have a duty to be kind and considerate to those less fortunate than ourselves.
On the darts front, the PDC deserve huge credit for the way they handled professional darts within a global pandemic. During the first lockdown, the introduction of the Home Tour kept professionals playing and then, once darts could return, I believe the PDC maximised the number of tournaments that could realistically be staged. It was a relentless schedule for us, but we are all grateful. If there are no tournaments, we can’t make a living and I would also like to credit the Professional Darts Players Association (@PDPA_darts) who supported many players who fell on hard times.
From a personal perspective, 2020 was a breakthrough year. I started 2020 at number 60 in the PDC Order of Merit. Fast forward 12 months and I have broken into the top 32 for the first time in my career and won my first PDC ranking event at the German Darts Championship back in September. I also reached my first major semi-final at the European Championship and got my first taste of both the World Grand Prix and the Grand Slam of Darts. I have heard some people say that I am the most improved player on the whole tour, and that is obviously nice to hear. I saw Darts Orakel (@DartsOrakel) put a statistic out recently that revealed that across the last two years I have nearly doubled my rate of three- treble visits. Even I was shocked at that!
What is behind my improvement? Well, there are a few factors involved. Firstly, I have tinkered with my technique. The work that I have done with Wayne Mardle is well- documented and I will continue to think forensically about the bio-mechanics of my throw for the rest of my career. Secondly, I changed my equipment. A while ago Jose de Sousa gave me some darts of his to try from a Japanese manufacturer, Trinidad. I was really impressed as I found I was scoring heavily with them. I decided to approach Trinidad (@TRiNiDADinfo) and ask if they would consider working with me. Thankfully they showed great faith in me and agreed to a sponsorship deal. We now have a fantastic relationship and Trinidad are always very open to any tweaks that I suggest in my equipment. Lastly, I ensured that my mindset placed complete trust in the changes that I was making. It is only natural to have doubts when you make big changes to your game, but I have retained full belief and trust in the process that I am going through. I now see myself as constantly evolving as a player and I believe that I can improve a lot more in 2021. As well as keeping on top of the technical aspects of my throw I have also recently started working with a performance coach to help me with the mental side of the game.
In terms of my targets for 2021, I have ambitions of breaking into the top 16 players in the world and winning a major event. That might sound ambitious, but I want to set my sights high, and I do not think it is unrealistic. I got to the quarter-final of the first major event of the year a couple of weeks ago at the UK Open, just missing out in a deciding leg to World Champion, Gerwyn Price. I am pleased with my start to the year.
I have been thrilled to announce two partnership deals recently. All of my clothing requirements (both playing shirts and my clothing range) will now be produced by Volcano Sports. Volcano are the most prominent manufacturer of quality sportswear back in my native South Africa. I have signed a long-term deal and I am very excited about what our partnership can achieve over the coming months. I’ve also signed a deal to work with Fitzdares (@Fitzdares), a prominent UK-based bookmaker who offer their customers a very personalised and traditional service. As part of our deal, I will provide Fitzdares customers with my views on matches at the darts majors throughout 2021, which is something I find very useful as it means I keep myself updated with how all the players are performing. The guys at Fitzdares are passionate about darts and I look forward to working with them throughout the year.
All-in-all I am very happy with where I am with my game and career at the moment, here’s hoping that we can all return to some level of normality as the year progresses.
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