Steve Beaton thought about quitting darts – now hes back for 33rd world champs

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    Steve Beaton is raring to go ahead of his 33rd consecutive appearance at the Paddy Power World Darts Championship – but only after considering his future in the sport.

    The Bronzed Adonis has been a regular part of Christmas for as long as most darts fans can remember. Like mince pies and skinful too many at the work jolly, it just wouldn’t be the festive season without him.

    However, the 59-year-old almost called it quits at the start of 2023 after over 30 years on the oche. Beaton contemplated tossing the tungsten to one side following a disappointing showing at Ally Pally 12 months ago, when he lost 3-0 to Danny van Trijp in the first round.

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    Thankfully, the veteran heartthrob came to his senses and is back for another crack at the tournament he won the BDO version of in 1996. “I was uhming and ahing at the start of the year about whether it would be my last year,” Beaton told us. “I didn’t really want to lose my Tour Card, but I was thinking of giving it up.

    “I had a good think about it and decided I might just give it another year to see how things go. I was thinking about packing it in and now I don’t think I am.

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    “It’s one of those things, I thought ‘what am I going to do really?’ At the beginning of this year I was thinking it might be my last year, and now I’m thinking about giving it another year!”

    Beaton made amends for his disappointing world championship showing by making it to the last 32 of the first players championship event of the season. He also reached the quarter-final of the Baltic Sea Darts Open and the fifth round of the UK Open, losing to Rob Cross.

    Despite a campaign that has seen him remain in the world top 50, there’s a nagging sense of what might have been for the Bronzed Adonis. “I started the year off quite well, but I had one bad week in Hildesheim and it cost me. I didn’t pick up anything that week and it knocked me out of the World Grand Prix and the European Championship.

    “Up until that point I was doing really well. I missed out on the Europeans by £500 so it was a bit depressing, but that’s the way things go.”

    Nevertheless, Beaton remains upbeat ahead of his latest crack at the worlds and puts his longevity in the sport down to his fitness regime. Speaking to us from outside the gym, the Bronzed Adonis said: “I tend to cycle a couple of times a week if I can, and I like to swim for 45 minutes or an hour, so that’s my morning taken care of.

    “I try to do that most days when I’m at home but obviously that’s more difficult with the schedule. When I’m at home I try and keep myself fit. To be honest, I don’t think I’d have lasted as long in the sport if I didn’t. I wouldn’t still be playing now, I know that now for a fact. I packed up smoking 20 odd years ago and I don’t drink as much now either.

    “You need to keep your body moving. If I don’t, I’ll seize up! I’ll be 60 next year and there’s no way I’d be carrying on now if I didn’t do a bit of exercise and keep myself moving.”

    Beaton has been involved in darts since the 1980s and has seen the sport change dramatically in that time. Long gone are the pints and fags that were once parodied on Not the Nine O’Clock News. In their place, genuine athletes who dedicate hours of practice and who look after themselves on and off the oche.

    “The whole generation has changed now,” Beaton explains. “There’s a different attitude towards the sport. It’s not like the old days when people smoke and drank a lot. The whole image has changed. They used to look to me to guidance but not anymore!”

    While the perception of darts is now radically different, one thing that hasn’t changed is Beaton’s desire to perform at the world championships. By his own admission, the Bronzed Adonis has underachieved at the worlds since going all the way 27 years ago.

    Since crossing over to the PDC in 2002, he’s only been past the second round three times at the Alexandra Palace and Circus Tavern. He’s only made the third round once in his last 18 attempts. It’s not something Beaton can explain. “I’ve never had a very good run in the worlds for whatever reason,” he says.

    “You play all year for it and then it just goes out of the window. I don’t know why. I play a lot better when I relax, maybe I just have too much tension, but I don’t really know.

    “I think it’s more about trying too hard because you always want to do well. I’ve always been one of these that hasn’t practiced a lot; 15 or 20 minutes and I’m ready to play. It’s one of those things, maybe I ought to change the way I prepare for it.”

    Despite his inconsistent form at Ally Pally, Beaton is hopeful of a deep run this year. “I’d love to get to the last eight, semis and then go from there really. Practicing I’m playing great. I just need to take that up to the main stage.

    “Unfortunately, I’ve not been in many TV events this year, and I only just qualified for the Players Championship.

    “I could have done with being in a few more TV tournaments to get a bit more match practice in, but I’ll just take it as comes and see how it goes. It’s nice to be there again and I’m looking forward to it.”

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