Deta’s views on BDO Worlds, early darts career, growing up in Jamaica and more
We are delighted to be joined by darting legend and WTF women’s world number one Deta Hedman, who shares her exclusive thoughts to Sam Barnard for Darts World ahead of her ninth successive Lakeside appearance, in Part 4 of our 2018 BDO World Championship profile/interview series.
Deta is one of the sport’s most recognisable names, thanks to having been among the best female players in the world for the best part of 30 years and winning well over 100 titles during that time – including the World Masters twice (in 1994 and 2013), the 2011 Finder Masters and 2002 PDC Desert Classic.
Hedman has also battled her wits against the men in the past, notably becoming the first woman to defeat a man on TV when she knocked out both Aaron Turner and Norman Fletcher at the 2005 UK Open to reach the last 64 – progressing further than the likes of Glen Durrant, Peter Wright, Rod Harrington, Alan Warriner-Little, Keith Deller, Steve Beaton and even her brother Al!
A World Championship has still eluded her, though, despite coming so close three times after narrowly finishing runner-up in 2012, 2014 and 2016. But being in great current form, winning the Italian Grand Masters, Malta Open and Jersey Classic all in November, Deta goes into the 2018 edition in confident mood as top seed ahead of her opener against Norway’s Rachna David.
England star Hedman talks about all of the above and more, including growing up in Jamaica, her impressively sporting family, working 52 hours a week, her new nickname and reasons why she was forced into taking long spells out of the game.
So, read on for our exclusive Deta Hedman interview and profile, the fourth in our series, ahead of the 2018 BDO World Championship from January 6-14…
Deta Hedman profile
Date of birth: 14/11/1959 (age 58)
Place of birth: Jamaica
Based: Witham, Essex
County represented: Oxfordshire
Nickname: The Heart of Darts
Walk-on song: This Girl – by Kungs (Cookin’ on 3 Burners)
Darts used: One80 R2 reflex Deta Hedman 26g
Sponsors: One80 darts, Fastaway, L-Style, Big5, Steve Holmes/Mark Bridges
Twitter handle: @deta132
Favourite double: Any one I hit!
Favourite checkout: As above, but enjoyed 132 finishes at 2 Lakesides
Favourite tournament: Dutch Open – biggest in the world
Favourite country/city played in: Czech Republic, Prague
Toughest players faced: Too many to mention
Player(s) to look out for in future: Beau Greaves, Owen Roelofs and Charlie Stocks (only because he winds my partner Paul up) and he is very good
Sports idols: Usain Bolt and loved the Jamaican bobsleigh team
Best mates in darts: Jill Bailes and Maggie Sutton, modern day Lorraine Winstanley and Anastasia Dobromyslova
Favourite food: Like a nice chilli con carne
Favourite film(s)/TV show(s): Don’t even have a TV
Favourite band(s)/musician(s): Anything that takes my fancy
Hobbies outside of darts: All sports
Day job: Royal Mail
Ultimate darting ambition: To be world champion of course, but be nice to be remembered as a nice person
Deta Hedman interview
Firstly, how excited are you ahead of the upcoming 2018 Worlds? Do you believe you can finally lift the title?
I’m always get excited about a World Champs.
I can honestly say this is the toughest field since I made my Lakeside debut [in 2010]. Every player there is capable of beating anybody.
I believe I can win any event I enter, but as they say it’s all on the day .
You’ve had another fantastic year, winning many events and still being ranked WDF no.1. Are at the top of your game, and do you still have many darting years left in you?
My game has been very consistent the last eight years. I’ve been informed that since August 2009 I’ve won 102 ranking titles and 126 in my career.
Personally, I feel I was playing better about three seasons ago, but I’m not far off that form.
When I came back to darts, my partner Paul said ‘as long as you are enjoying darts, play’ – I’m still really enjoying my darts.
How do you balance such a demanding day job with darts? What is your darts practice regime like during the year and before the Worlds?
My REAL job is demanding as I work 52 hours in four nights [for the Royal Mail].
I try to do 20 minutes a day practice and mainly on doubles.
We are not allowed time off in December, so I actually practise less going into the Worlds.
What are your thoughts on the women’s game at present? Is there anything you’d like to see change or more that can be done by the BDO or even PDC again?
The women’s game has a very strong top end at the moment, my belief is we are an underused asset within the BDO at the moment.
There are continuing rumours of the PDC showing an interest in the top end of ladies darts, but let’s wait and see!
Many promises have failed to materialise for the ladies game.
How was your time in the PDC, and what were your memories of winning the Dessert Classic and making history in the UK Open? Would you like to see female players more regularly compete with the men?
PDC never had a women’s tour, I played on tour against the men. The Dessert Classic was a ladies event but not part of a PDC ladies tour.
I loved my time in the PDC. I used to drive my then partner Colin Lloyd to the events, and as we were there just entered. Had some great times in PDC as I have in BDO.
Ladies have proved we can compete against the men, but I think we deserve our own ladies tour, though would love an event or two where we were all in an event together.
You have taken two long breaks from darts since first starting out in the 1980s, was there a particular reason for that?
I was disenchanted with the game in 1997 – work commitments and a few issues led me to pack in.
Sometimes innocent remarks to some people are offensive to others, I used to hate being called a 6ft Mars bar – others found it funny.
I remember the BDO asked me to reconsider and go to World Cup in Australia to play for England.
[But] I stuck to my retirement, in fairness to the other ladies, and a certain Trina Gulliver was called up to replace me!
What memories do you have of Jamaica growing up? And was there a particular reason you moved to England?
The early days in Jamaica weren’t easy. My day would start with fetching water from the creek – in the early days we had Tilley Lamps, no electric.
When I was two, dad and mum came to England and I lived with my aunt (in Jamaica).
As mum and dad got established in England they brought us over one by one, so I came over when I was 13 and my first day in England I saw snow for the first time.
How exactly did you get into darts? And at what moment did you believe you can make it in the game?
In a very English tradition, I used to go down the pub on a Sunday lunchtime, used to mark and wouldn’t leave until I could beat one of my brothers.
I think they used to let me win just so they could go home for Sunday lunch.
I used to have a great friend, who sadly passed away, who encouraged me to play for a pub team and I then progressed to Superleague then county.
Is your nickname The Dark Destroyer in recognition of boxing great Nigel Benn by any chance? You are from a sporting family too?
It was a mixture of Nigel Benn and Shaun Wallace (both of Caribbean heritage too) – The Dark destroyer on The Chase.
I bumped into him at King’s Cross train station recently, and was introduced together as the 2 Dark Destroyers.
I am an ambassador for the Heart of Darts charity and I have now adopted that as my new nickname.
My brother Al Hedman won the British Open (defeating Andy Fordham in the 1995 final), my nephew Graeme ran the 400m for England and Great Britain in athletics, and my brother Rudi played football for several pro clubs including Crystal Palace.
I love all sports, and used to watch football and rugby a lot when I wasn’t playing darts.
And finally, are there any World Championship finals you remember that really stood out most for you in the past?
As a spectator, the famous Martin Adams v Phill Nixon battle [in the 2007 BDO final] stands out.
In the ladies, I think my final against Lisa Ashton [in 2014] had it all. I was 2 sets up, and 1 leg from winning, and Lisa launched an amazing fight back.
To make it strange I had campaigned for years to make the ladies final best of 5 sets instead of 3!
If I had kept quiet I would have beat Lisa 2-0 and Trina 2-1 [in 2016], but in fairness it should have been 5 sets all along.