World champion darts player Lorraine Winstanley believes she is going into 2018 full of confidence after her best year on the oche to date.
Winstanley’s long list of achievements this year include the Hal Masters, Welsh Open, English Open, Swedish Open, England Classic, England Matchplay and the Winmau World Masters.
It has been a “whirlwind” 12 months for the 42-year-old from Buxton who then shot to the top of the world rankings after she clinched the 2017 London Ladies Open Championship recently.
Speaking days after claiming BDO World No.1 status, Winstanley told the Advertiser it is all yet to sink in.
She said: “It’s been the best year in my darts career by far. I don’t know what the difference has been. I think I’ve just had a bit more confidence in myself and believing I can do it. It’s been a whirlwind year but it’s been a great one.”
Self belief has been the one changing factor in her preparations this year - not more practise or switching from her customary glass of rose to settle the nerves before competition.
“I don’t think I’ve made any subtle changes,” said Winstanley. “I’m not a massive practiser. I can’t say I’ve been practising really hard or working really hard because I practise when I want to practise.
“If I don’t feel like it then I don’t because I find it a bit pointless if I’m not in the right frame of mind.
“Mainly, I think the difference has been self belief and knowing that I can do it. Crossing the finish line has always been the difficult bit.
“Often I’d get down to the later stages of the tournament and then bump out. Just knowing that I can do it in myself has been the only change.”
And added: “I know I’ve always been able to do it, but I’ve not been able to get it out.
“In my head I’ve known. I don’t doubt my ability at all. I think it was just the self confidence in crossing that finishing line. I think it was more of a mental thing rather than the darts have improved.”
And the year is not yet over with one more competition before her attentions turn to the Lakeside - British Darts Organisation’s World Darts Championship - in January 2018.
“I’ve got the Finders Masters in the first week in December,” she said. “There are only six women playing; two groups of three and the two winners of the groups play in the final.
“It’s difficult to get in to but with winning the Hal Masters earlier this year that got me qualification to this tournament.
“That will be great practice and a bit of a dry run for Lakeside in January. It’ll have all the razzmatazz, on the stage and on the TV in Holland. The mind is definitely looking ahead to January.”
And, on her chances of doing something extra special at Lakeside, a grounded Winstanley’s self belief shines through again.
“I always think I can win it,” she said. “There’s no point standing on the oche if you don’t think you can win it. I’m really pleased with the way I’m playing at the moment.
“Don’t get me wrong, there’s always room for improvement, but I can’t knock the way I’m playing; it’s getting me through and into the final stages.
“I’m feeling good about January and I’m feeling confident going into it. I’m not being big headed or in that frame of mind but you’ve got to be confident going in and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Winstanley balances her darts career with running her own business - Divine Beauty on Dale Road in Buxton - and added she has “very understanding clients”.
“I won the Winmau on Wednesday night and I was back in the salon by Thursday lunch time. I literally drove straight from Bridlington to the salon,” she said.
“I said to them, best case scenario I’m back on Thursday. Worse case scenario I’m back on Tuesday. When I’m not travelling I’m back in the salon. That pays the bills.”
Winstanley would like to thank the following sponsors for their continued backing: Harlequin Teamwear, Red Dragon Darts, A&S Bearings and Transmissions and Davis Permanent Cosmetics.