Deta Hedman on breaking down in tears as she learned she was off to Ally Pally for World Darts Championships
Darts player Deta Hedman broke down in tears when she was told she had qualified for the PDC World Championships for the first time.
Hedman edged out Fallon Sherrock by two legs to secure her spot alongside Lisa Ashton at the iconic darts event and today learned she will face Andy Boulton on her debut at the tournament later this month.
And in an exclusive interview with NewsChain, the 61 year-old described just what it means to have made it to the world famous Alexandra Palace stage.
“Amazing. When I got told I just remember saying 'you're not winding me up are you?' And they said 'no you've got through by two legs’ and I went ‘really’ and they went ‘yeah’. I had my towel in my hands and I just put my head in it and cried!”
The Jamaican-born star, who has lived in Britain since she was a teenager, amitted that she thought she had ‘blown it’ after she lost to Sherrock at a qualifying event.
"I knew it was tight between Fallon and I. I just thought to myself I had to beat Fallon on that one and when I didn't I just came and sat down and said to my partner, Paul, damn I blew it.
"That was it really. I didn't think that I would have got through because simply [I thought I had] to beat Fallon. I had beaten her the game before and I thought okay I’m still hanging in there. But then on the last day myself, Fallon and Lisa were all in the same draw. It was the toughest board I was on out of all four [qualifying] tournaments and I was thinking ‘god they aren’t making it easy for me’!
“I couldn't sleep because obviously doing so well I was still on a high. So trying to sleep at night was just was a nightmare, so when I'd lost to Fallon I just thought I'd blown it.”
Hedman in fact did the exact opposite and reached one of the few tournaments she has not played in before.
And considering she is still not a full-time player - she works night shifts for the Royal Mail - she has had an incredible career on the oche, with the British Open, the BDO International Open, the England Masters and the WDF World Cup Singles among her highlights.
“I love to win,” she says. "I just love to win and if it's something that I haven't won before I just keep going and see how far I can get. I always look at it, whatever tournament that I play in, my goal has always been [to get to] the semi.
“But once I became quite successful at it my aim is to be in the final and anything after that is a bonus. But making the final I think yeah I've had a good day.”
That said, the modest Hedman has no expectations heading into the World Championships.
“The World Championships are a different kettle of fish! I'm targeting nothing. I'm going up against these professionals! I'm just going to enjoy the moment.”
With lockdown restrictions still in force, crowds at Ally Pally will be limited to 1,000 fans allowed in per session.
Hedman said: "It doesn't bother me at all. It's just amazing that they can have it anyway. The way I look at it, it's great that they can still put it on and that in itself, with the pandemic that's going on, is 100 per cent fantastic.”
Last year Sherrock lit up the world stage as she became the first woman to progress to the second round of the Championships, eventually reaching the third round where she lost out to Chris Dobey.
Each time she played, the typically raucous crowd booed her male opponent, something Hedman disagreed with.
"Do you know I went to Alexandra Palace both times when the ladies got through. The first year with Anastasia [Dobromyslova] and Lisa and that was a different atmosphere. Everybody had perfect order, but last year something changed which I didn’t like at all.
"I just felt the boys, when they were playing the ladies, the crowd started booing or barracking them when they were going for a double. I don’t approve of that in any sport whatsoever even if it helps the ladies. To me that was not a fair playing field.
“To me when I play, you win because you were good on the day or you lose because you weren’t good enough or that person hits the double before you. I don’t approve that there was all of that booing against the men when they were going for their doubles because to me that wasn’t very nice at all.”
That aside, Sherrock’s great run of form in 2019 brought women’s darts into the spotlight, a visibilty that Hardman says remains vital for the sport.
“It’s all to do with the media,” she said. "In any sport, as I said, the sports are all there but once the media get involved and bring it to the fore, look at the ladies football, cricket, golf.
"So the media has a big, big part to play as well. It definitely comes from TV exposure, definitely comes from that and obviously interviews, radio. It’s really everyone who is involved in the media all collaborating together that brings the game forward."
The World Darts Championships begin on December15