Cape Town darts player, Devon Petersen, 34, can be forgiven for flashing a smile as big as his heart, following a spectacular performance which saw him come from behind to claim victory in a Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) competition, a fortnight ago.
Mitchell’s Plain-born Petersen, South Africa and Africa’s only professional darts player, created history by becoming the first player from the continent to win a PDC ranking event at the German Darts Championship, in Hildesheim.
Petersen, also known as the African Warrior, beat Danny Noppert, from the Netherlands, 7-4 in the semi-finals before stopping Gerwyn Price’s bid to win a fourth successive PDC tournament. What makes his victory all the more impressive, is that he was forced to come back from 5-1 down to end the Welshman’s 17-match winning streak.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Petersen told the BBC following his hard-fought victory.
“I’ve been working hard, it feels like a lifetime and it’s probably been the last… since I was 15… so it’s 19 years. To be a champion is amazing, wow,” he said.
So what exactly does it mean for a Cape Town boytjie?
“Well,” he said, “to represent an area with such a wide range of talent is a blessing”.
While the whole world may have gone into a bit of a cocoon due to the coranavirus and with all organised sport, including darts, suspended during the lockdown period, Petersen, it seems, emerged stronger and sharper than before.
How did he handle the lockdown and the whole Covid-19 pandemic?
“Well,” he says, “I’ve competed in online tournaments and practised three to four hours a day, some days even five hours.
He said that virtual darts grew tremendously during the lockdown as it allows players to compete remotely.
Although up against some of the best players on a regular basis, Petersen still regards his father, George, as his main inspiration.
“My dad was the best player in our house and I wanted to be like him,” he said.
Of course, he’s come a long way from losing his first final at a youth tournament in Mitchell’s Plain all those years ago.
“That’s exactly why I chose the name African Warrior.
“It represents my continent and my spirit – a never-say-die attitude and a willingness to become better,” he said.
He dominated the SA darts scene in 2010, winning all the major national competitions and obtained his professional tour card in 2011.
He also established the Last Man Standing darts tournament hosted at GrandWest over the last few years, offering the winner a shot at playing in the big league.
“The aim is to give all Africans an opportunity to get a taste of the darting dream and just maybe inspire them to do more in the sport,” he said.
So what does the future hold for darts in Africa and the world?
“The future is bright with Africa being mentioned in the media a few times this past week. It allows our players to use the platform and work even harder at their game.
“My goal is to become the first African world champion and number one in the world. I feel as though because I was able to shine, it will allow others to shine,” he said.