Rob Cross: ‘After the world darts final it was like I’d hit rock-bottom’

first_imgMore worryingly, Cross put on five stone in as many months. How did he balloon so alarmingly that he ended up thinking he was having a heart attack? “You become set in the routine. I was away playing darts most of the time and I’d finish the night eating the wrong things. You wake up one day and you look down and think [he laughs]: ‘I can’t see my old boy now.’ I didn’t want to be 18 stone. The highest I ever went before was 14-and-a-half stone and that was usually when I had eight weeks easy work, and then we’d go back on the hard graft and get it off. Eighteen stone was a shock.“I then got another scare. It’s a condition where there is inflammation between the sternum and the ribs. It swells up and I felt this tightening in my chest. I was in the practice room in Scotland, thinking: ‘I don’t feel right, I’ve got these pains in my chest.’ Every time I brought my arms back it cracked open and the pressure released. I went on stage to play and I had a nightmare. I was thinking: ‘Rob, you’re going to have a heart attack on TV.’ So I got checked by the medics and when I came back I went straight to the hospital.“There’s not a lot they can do for this condition and it can take a year to disappear. I’ve not had any problems with it since but it made me look after myself. I’m now a few pounds under 16 stone and I feel healthier.”So much has happened since Cross and his friend split the £14 prize for winning a doubles tournament in a pub. “It was a huge win,” he says with a grin. “That £7 would have paid for something. It’s really weird because, since I was 15, playing darts for a living is all I wanted to do. But 12 years ago the money wasn’t there. You had to be top eight to earn a decent living. And even then, it wouldn’t be as great as what the top 16 are on now.” Cross needed time to adjust to his unexpected success – which took its toll. “After the final it was like I’d hit rock bottom. It had drained me. I spent January doing interviews and I only got my darts back when I played the Masters at the end of the month. This year has taken getting used to as it’s my first full year. I’ve really enjoyed it but it’s been demanding – even if I don’t do social media any more. I have everything done for me because one guy caused me to come off it. He said he wished all my kids dead. He said I would live but my kids and my wife should die. He said I should live unhappily alone for the rest of my days.”Was Cross spooked by this threat? “My Mrs managed to get it before me so he was blocked straightaway. It’s just very sad. I wouldn’t wish my worst enemy bad luck. Everything you get in life, you have to work hard for. And if you’re not willing to get out of bed and work then you’re not going to progress. I think they look for a reaction. But at the same time it’s very extreme. Still, if you didn’t get negatives it wouldn’t be life, would it?” Share on Messenger Sign up to The Recap, our weekly email of editors’ picks. Share on WhatsApp There was one qualifier left in Norwich, 160 miles from his home in Hastings, and Cross refused his uncle’s suggestion that they should make the three-hour drive in a last bid to qualify. “On the Friday I went out with my uncle and had a throw with him. He said: ‘Norwich is on Sunday. I’ll take you.’ I said: ‘No. I’ve not played this week. I’m playing rubbish. I’m not going.’ He said: ‘I’ll still pick you up.’ I said: ‘Phone me tomorrow, and I’ll tell you no again.’ He didn’t phone but half-five on Sunday morning he knocks on the door and says: ‘Let’s go.’ I’m still in my boxers, thinking: ‘What’s happening?’ He shoved me in the shower and we ended up going. It went very well. No danger of losing, only a few legs dropped all day.”Cross qualified for the UK Open and made it to the fourth round where he lost 9-5 to Van Gerwen. “I knew I could play even better,” Cross says, remembering the night he decided to turn pro. “You never know how you’re going to take to the big stage. But when I walked off I said to one of the chalkers [scorekeepers] Scott Gibling: ‘I belong up there.’ From that moment I had one route – the Challenge Tour and over four weekends I got my Tour card. I gave up my job as an electrician, which was risky, but I had one of those weird premonitions it would work out.”After a solid first year as a professional, Cross entered the PDC world championships as a rank outsider. He came through the testing early rounds and then beat Van Gerwen in one of the greatest matches in the tournament’s history. In the final he faced Taylor who, having won a record 16 world titles, was playing his last match.“He was my hero,” Cross says, “but he was retiring. It was his last-ever game and he aimed to go out as world champion. I’d watched Phil dominate for 25 years. He was ruthless. But I said to my Mrs: ‘He ain’t bullying me.’ The night before the final I slept OK but I was nervous. They were the biggest nerves I’ve ever had. An hour before I went to the venue I sat alone in my hotel room for an hour. When I come out, I weren’t nervous no more. I said: ‘I’ve got to play properly from the beginning.’ I did and before I knew it I was 3-0 up.”Cross must have known that victory was coming? “No,” he exclaims, “it’s not done until it’s done. But at 6-1 I went in to the break thinking: ‘One more set and you’ve done it.’ I came out, missed a few doubles, messed around and lost the set 3-0. I was raging with myself because I’d let that happen. I came back out at 6-2 and I thought only about throwing good darts. Luckily enough I got a break and it gave me total control.”After he had won, Cross, rather than celebrating wildly, paid respectful attention to Taylor. “He deserves that. How many people can say they’ve dominated their sport to the degree he has? Not even Roger Federer. It was his farewell and he didn’t need no one shouting in his face.” “Do you ever get these feelings that something’s going to happen?” Rob Cross asks with surprise in his voice. “You don’t know where they come from but you can feel that something’s going to happen. I had that feeling when I won the worlds. I had that feeling when I won the Challenge Tour. They’re like premonitions.”Cross shakes his head and smiles at the mysterious force of the past two years. His life has been transformed from being an electrician who won £7 after victory in a pub tournament, to becoming the world champion of darts 18 months later. Cross won £400,000 on 1 January 2018 when, in the PDC world championship final, he crushed his hero, Phil Taylor, at the end of his first year as a professional. Since then, Cross put on five stone in weight and was disconcerted when the lives of his wife and three children were threatened by a crank who was offended by his stunning rise.Fortunately, Cross has shed over half of that excessive weight and he and his family moved into a new house last week as he prepares to start the defence of his title against a qualifier on Thursday – the opening evening of this year’s tournament. Cross is seeded two, behind the world No 1, Michael van Gerwen, and in the mood to replicate the composed skill and mental toughness that shocked everyone last time. He defeated Van Gerwen and Taylor, arguably the two greatest players in the history of darts, and the memory is fresh enough to give Cross real pleasure as he relives the events which made his sporting story so incredible.In February 2016, while working as an electrician who played darts occasionally, Cross had failed to qualify for the BDO world championships – the PDC’s less illustrious rival. Feeling disillusioned, he rejected his uncle’s urging that he should try to qualify for the UK Open – a tournament open to amateurs who can make the main draw via a series of qualifiers.“If my uncle hadn’t dragged me out of bed to play in that qualifier I wouldn’t be here today,” Cross says, rubbing his bald head in amusement. “I really believe that.” interviews Rob Cross changed his darts this year to little success but says: ‘I’ve gone back to my old ones and I’m practising like a dream.’ Photograph: Tom Jenkins/Guardian Twitter Since you’re here… Facebook PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC)ROB CROSS IS THE 2017/2018 WILLIAM HILL WORLD DARTS CHAMPION 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆#WHdarts #LoveTheDarts 1, 2018 Darts Pinterest Share via Emailcenter_img … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay. Whether we are up close or further away, the Guardian brings our readers a global perspective on the most critical issues of our lifetimes – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. We believe complex stories need context in order for us to truly understand them. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Twitter PDC World Championships Share on Facebook Share on Pinterest Support The Guardian Rob Cross (left) sent Phil Taylor into retirement with defeat in the final of the 2018 PDC World Darts Championship. Photograph: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images Facebook Pinterest Share on LinkedIn This year the world champion will win £500,000. The 28-year-old Cross’s form going into the tournament has not been good since the autumn but he is world No 2 – and the only player with an unbeaten record at the world championships. “I’ve been playing poorly the last few months. We’ve had things going on with the new house and I changed my darts. That was the worst mistake as they weren’t right and I lost confidence. But I’ve gone back to my old ones and I’m practising like a dream. Out of any competition this year, the worlds give my best chance. I know Gary Anderson and Michael [van Gerwen] are tough to beat but I feel confident.”Has he had another premonition as he approaches the end of his first year as world champion? “I want the No 1 spot. If you can’t be the best player in the world then what’s the point? If I had to settle on No 2 it wouldn’t be good enough. I want to be the best. I still believe, in the coming years, you’re going to watch me dominate this sport.”The William Hill World Darts Championship is live on Sky Sports Darts from 13 December to 1 January Share on Twitter Topics Reuse this contentlast_img read more

Bains describes being asked to remove turban by US airport security

first_imgTORONTO – Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains says he was asked to remove his turban during an “awkward” incident at a checkpoint in the Detroit airport a year ago and was only allowed to proceed when the security staff realized who he was.Bains, who was attending a G7 women’s forum in Toronto, spoke out about a number of media reports detailing the incident — and used it as a teachable moment about the prevalence of discrimination and the importance of speaking out about it.He described how after one initial encounter with overzealous security officials who wanted him to remove his turban, he was allowed to pass — only to be summoned back from the gate because of a problem with a swab test, when he was asked again to remove it.“I was asked to remove my turban, they did another test and I was ultimately allowed to go through,” he said, adding that at no point did he remove his headwear.“For me this is really about an incident that occurred that should not have occurred, because I was asked to come back from the gate, back to the security checkpoint, to remove my turban.”Bains is a Sikh and wearing the turban is mandatory in his religion. And while he was eventually allowed to board once he presented a diplomatic passport and disclosed his position in the government, he said it should not have mattered that he was a cabinet minister.“It doesn’t matter what your status is, what your position is,” he said. “It’s really about making sure that people are not discriminated against, that people are treated fairly and with respect.”He recounted his experience to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who was in Washington for NAFTA talks Thursday. She said her officials raised the issue with their American counterparts.The U.S. has since expressed regret and has apologized to Bains.“My hope is now that I’m talking about this, now this has come to public light, that we can avoid these type of instances going forward,” he said.last_img read more