LUKE HUMPHRIES is determined to enjoy every moment of his experience at the William Hill World Darts Championship after conquering the anxiety attacks that left him fearing for his future in the sport.
Humphries famously knocked out defending champion Rob Cross in a run to the quarter-finals of last year’s event but was secretly struggling under the surface during the biggest triumph of his career at the time.
As the issue continued into the 2019 season, including an occasion where he was treated after experiencing severe heart palpitations, the 24-year-old decided to speak out and seek help.
“If I hadn’t spoken about it, I don’t think I’d be playing darts right now, it was such an important step for me,” said Humphries, after Friday night’s first round victory over Devon Petersen.
“Last year I had anxiety attacks during that win against Rob Cross and I felt like I couldn’t carry on - not only in that match but in other ones after it. It continued and got worse every time I played. I seriously thought my career was going to come to an early end.
“At the beginning of the year I thought about retiring but by the end of it I had become World Youth Champion. It has been a strange but successful season.
He is now looking to embark on another run at Alexandra Palace with a new-found freedom and a fresh perspective on the game.
“It’s a great achievement for me just to be here,” added Humphries, who takes on Jermaine Wattimena in the second round on Saturday afternoon.
“I don’t get the anxiety attacks now because I’ve learnt how to control them. I am able to enjoy playing darts and focus on the game.
“I think it has helped to be so open and talk publicly about it. It seems to have taken the power out of it. I’ve received a lot of support and realised that it is not an uncommon experience. It controlled me but now I can control it.”
The 2019/2020 William Hill World Darts Championship will be held from December 13-January 1 at Alexandra Palace in London.
The tournament will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK, on PDCTV-HD for Rest of the World Subscribers and through the PDC's worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and RTL7.