Australia’s Damon Heta and Simon Whitlock have dedicated their historic Cazoo World Cup of Darts triumph to Kyle Anderson, following a thrilling four days of action in Frankfurt.
Heta and Whitlock defied the odds to prevail in a dramatic finale at the Eissporthalle on Sunday, defeating top seeds England and 2020 champions Wales to clinch Australia’s maiden World Cup crown.
The fifth seeds also dumped out five-time semi-finalists Belgium in the quarter-finals, having missed double 18 for a spectacular Pairs nine-darter during their opening round win over Lithuania on Friday.
The pair kept their nerve to defeat Welsh duo Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton in Sunday’s showpiece, before paying tribute to former Auckland Darts Masters winner Anderson, who passed away suddenly in August 2021.
Anderson made four consecutive World Cup appearances alongside Whitlock, while Heta and Anderson were childhood friends, even attending the same school in Perth.
“I was thinking about Kyle all day. We miss him,” said Whitlock, who reached the World Cup semi-finals with Anderson in 2018.
“Kyle was amazing. He was a great guy, a great dart player, and it’s fantastic to lift the trophy for him.”
Heta, who spearheaded a fundraising effort which raised over £30,000 for Anderson’s family, added: “I played his walk-on song before I went on for my first game against Belgium, and that gave me a little bit of inspiration.
“To win it for Kyle and for Australia in general, it’s incredible.”
Australia are the fifth nation to have lifted the coveted title since the tournament’s inception in 2010, and for Whitlock, Sunday’s success provided a remarkable redemption story.
Ten years ago, Whitlock and Paul Nicholson succumbed to England’s Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis in an extraordinary sudden-death leg, spurning four match darts for glory.
Whitlock is one of only four players to have featured in every edition of the World Cup, and he insists he always felt he would get another opportunity to fulfil his darting destiny.
“I did believe I’d get another chance,” said the 53-year-old, who is now assured of a spot at this year’s Grand Slam of Darts alongside Heta.
“This is the best moment of my life. I’ve won the European Championship, but this tops it.
“It is absolutely amazing, a dream come true. I’ve been dreaming about this moment all my life. We are World Champions. You cannot argue with that!”
The newly crowned World Champions will receive an incredible homecoming when the World Series heads back to Australia this summer, as they lock horns with the biggest names in the sport.
Whitlock is relishing his World Series return, and he believes their World Cup success could inspire a new generation of talent Down Under.
“I’m 53 but I’m still as passionate about the game as ever. Hopefully it does inspire more Australians to take up the game,” added the two-time TV title winner.
“I’m telling you now, watch out for this boy [Heta]. He is absolutely brilliant, solid as a rock, and he’s a great guy with it.
“He could be the next world champion. I’m proud to partner him and proud to have won the title with him.”
Heta has enjoyed a remarkable rise since his fairytale World Series win in 2019, where he defeated James Wade, Gary Anderson, Whitlock and Rob Cross to claim Brisbane Darts Masters glory.
The 34-year-old was the second regional qualifier to win a World Series event, replicating the exploits of his late compatriot Anderson, and he’s now closing in on a place in the world’s top 16.
Heta defeated Jonny Clayton 4-2 to seal the deal in Sunday’s final, and after witnessing Clayton’s meteoric ascent following Wales’ World Cup success in 2020, he need look no further for inspiration.
“If I can do half of what Jonny has done since the World Cup, I’ll be a stoked boy,” joked Heta, after defeating Clayton, Price and Michael Smith in Singles matches on Sunday.
“I’m absolutely buzzing to have Australia’s name on this trophy - it’s well deserved and long overdue.
“We had so much support back home and hopefully this can build the game in Australia, it’s something to strive for.”