HE has already come a long way, from South Africa to West Yorkshire, but Devon Petersen is hoping his remarkable journey will continue to the summit of world darts.
The 32-year-old, who was born in Cape Town and now lives in Bradford, admits he is yet to reach his potential, but is “100 per cent” convinced he can become world champion one day.
Petersen will take on 11th seed Ian ‘Diamond’ White in the second round of the PDC William Hill World Darts Championship tomorrow evening.
As a qualifier, Petersen will need to win seven matches to take out the biggest prize in the sport.
The world’s 69th-ranked player is a distant outsider to feature in the final at Alexandra Palace, London, on New Year’s Day, but neither talent nor ambition are lacking and Petersen is setting his sights high.
He insisted: “I want to win the worlds. You don’t just compete in the worlds, you want to win it. I have not really shown what I can do as yet.
What I have shown is not that of a world championship winner, but I know I have got the game and if I play at my best I am always going to have that chance.Devon Petersen
“What I have shown is not that of a world championship winner, but I know I have got the game and if I play at my best I am always going to have that chance.
“I want to perform the best I can all the time. I don’t think I have even scratched the surface of what I am capable of.
“I practice very well. It is not that I struggle to bring it to the stage, but I need to believe a bit more.
“It is not that I lack confidence, but sometimes you lack that consistency and complete focus.”
That was evident earlier this week when Petersen edged through a dramatic first round tie against Wayne ‘The Wanderer’ Jones.
Having sprinted into a 2-0 lead in the race to three sets, Petersen saw Jones hit back to level the scores and then miss six match darts in a sudden-death leg before the adopted Yorkshireman landed the winning double at his eighth attempt.
“After going 2-0 up and feeling like I was cruising, I don’t think I was playing exceptionally well, but the plan was coming together,” recalled Petersen.
“I relaxed a bit and thought ‘I’ve got him now’. I took it easy and the quality Wayne Jones is, he stepped up and got it to 2-2 and it went to a deciding leg, which should not have happened.”
Petersen twice had to watch as Jones stepped up to the oche with three darts in hand to win the tie and even apologised to his wife, sitting close to the stage, for his impending defeat.
“There’s nothing you can do,” he said. “You just have to take the opportunities that are gifted to you.
“You never know when you are going to go back to the oche again. I would have bet my mortgage on him hitting it (the winning double).”
Petersen admitted both players lacked composure as they attempted to secure a place in the second round.
He described his failure to take a step back after Jones’s first futile visit to the oche as a “rookie error”, but believed justice was done in the end.
“It is not a game I should have lost,” he added. “If I had, I would have lost it, rather than him winning it.”
He will have to play better tomorrow, but having one match already under his belt, while White enters the tournament at the second round stage, will be an advantage and Petersen’s opponent is under pressure as he battles to secure a place in the lucrative Premier League.
Though billed as the ‘African Warrior’, Petersen is better known as ‘Dancing Devon’, for his habit of boogying on stage.
That has made him hugely popular with darts’ growing fanbase and he has no intention of changing his style, but he admits he would rather be famed for his throwing than his dance moves.
“Maybe I should cut down on the antics a bit,” he added.
“It maybe does influence my performance slightly, but it is a show and I am like that all the time.
“The darts are bigger than the dancing now and I’d rather have it like that, rather than the dancing coming first.”
Petersen’s permanent move to Bradford has increased Yorkshire’s representation in the tournament to three, alongside Joe ‘The Rockstar’ Cullen and James ‘Lethal Biscuit’ Wilson.
As seeds, Cullen, from Bradford, and Huddersfield-based Wilson both entered the tournament last night at the second round stage.
Cullen, ranked 14th in the world, was trounced by Ireland’s Brendan Dolan, his poor record at Alexandra Palace continuing as he won only one leg in a 3-0 defeat.
“Moving to Bradford was the best thing I could have done for my career,” added Petersen.
“I definitely want to push on and push forward now.”