There was a time when I just played darts for the heck of it. It got me away from home and into pubs. It got me late nights out and dinners outside. I was in school and this was my version of striking gold.
There was never any pressure put on me but I was encouraged a lot to pursue the game. I’ve learnt a lot from great players when I was younger. I still continue to learn now even from those younger.
Darts was never my first choice of sport. It was always the least important. You can say I just had a knack for it. I didn’t put in the hours and the results that showed were elevated because of what I did at a young age.
I grew older, the pressure was now new to me. I faltered against people who I had no business losing to. I didn’t learn from it – I just brushed it to the side and picked up the darts before the next tournament.
I started winning – I was inconsistent though. I was beginning to handle pressure – just a little though. It took me 6 years to win India’s highest darting honor – winning the Nationals. I’d lost 5times before that in the finals.
I lost my guiding light and I was clueless for a while. Why was I never forced onto something I was perceived to be good at? Why was I just nudged? Was it just you showing me the direction and letting me walk there, let alone run?
Maybe people don’t understand why I do this. Why should they? We’re all different and no one has lived in my shoes.
Just a few things though – things I’ve learnt in the past and things that I just follow in darts – yes, I haven’t followed them in life – shows you my priorities.
This is to all you Indian Darters – or just darters in general who read this. This is the crux of what I have gone through in the last 22 years of playing darts. I only understood it in the last 5 years.
1. If you want to be on the mountain top and if you want to stay there – remember that it’s the smallest part of the mountain – the air up there is thin. It’s harder staying up there than reaching there.
Enough people talk about being the number 1 ranked player in India. The world knows who it is and that’s just the way it is. Karma is a bitch 😉
2. Whether my opponents are newbies or good players – I am indebted not to others but to myself to always hold myself to a standard. I put that pressure on myself – I falter due to the weight I put on my own shoulders. Pressure is a privilege that I enjoy. Remember that.
3. I’ve lost a lot more than I’ve won. There is no bigger hurtful lesson than losing or failure. I’ve been losing for 22 years. Yes, I am a loser and I’ve learnt quite a bit from each loss. But if you call me one then what are you? Don’t even go there.
4. Most of you practice before a tournament and talk about why your darts don’t go like they do in practice. It’s suddenly pressure, sweaty palms or a cold shoulder. I have been practicing since December 19th of 2019 for this years World Championships. I did know that with the leaders we have this was on the cards. (For example – I did learn from the aftermath of the PDC World Cup Doubles). If you are prepared for the worst then consider yourself fully prepared.
5. I see enough people who play for a few days, weeks, months or years and start comparing themselves to the best in the world. And when the darts don’t go – they quit or lose interest. 😊
Don’t overestimate what you can do in a year. This is a process called perfection. But don’t underestimate what you can do in 5years or 10years time. Remember, it’s a process.
I am a product of learnings from my life, friends and losses. I’m proud to say that in darts I’ve never been handed a freebie and I’ve had to ask questions or lose to learn.
Right now – This spot at the World Championships – I’ll get it the old-fashioned way. I don’t need to be beating World Championship representatives that haven’t taken more than 2 legs off me in the last ten years. Yup – unfortunately I haven’t lost to him all my life – I haven’t learnt anything from it. But it seems he hasn’t learnt anything either. There are other ways of getting to that stage and not just through freebies that have been given out twice already in our young history.
This last para seems too rude? Too directed at someone? It is. You’re representing the freaking country – my freaking country!! And I know what I’ve had to do to lead it. Remember that you don’t answer to the Indian public because they don’t even know you exist. You answer to me – coz I’ll make your life a living hell (On the dart board that is) and I’ll remind you every single day on the easiest money you made at the expense of my education.
I’ve learnt quite a bit over my years in the sport.