Deta Hedman chats to Alex Moss about winning 100 ranking titles, her favourite win and her future plans
Barely two weeks have past since Deta Hedman wrote her name in the history books of this sport, but when we move on to discussing it, she could hardly be more grounded.
Victory in the England National Championship in Selsey last month took Hedman’s tally of ranking titles in the BDO to 100.
Since winning the Swiss and Finland Opens back in 1989, the 56-year-old has twice retired from the sport, and twice she has come back to continue playing.
It is a remarkable story which she hopes will have a fairy tale ending, lifting the World Championship crown at Lakeside, but before then the achievement of winning 100 ranking titles is on everyone’s lips.
“It’s not really sunk in yet,” the Jamaican-born thrower said. “I don’t really think about that, I just go with the flow really.
“I still just like to play for fun. I just like to travel about. I like going away and catching up with old friends and making new ones too.
“It’s nice to know people all over the world in case you need something, or you might want to go over there on holiday, you never know.”
Hedman’s long list of ranking title success, which now stands at 101 after she won the England Open shortly after the landmark 100th title, has won tournaments all around the world, but which one for her stands out the most?
“I think when I won my first Winmau World Masters,” she said.
“At the time they didn’t have a World Championship for the ladies, so the World Masters was the World Championship for us.
“When I won it in I think 1994 that really sticks in my mind, that’s the one I remember most.”
Hedman beat the then defending champion Mandy Solomonds 3-2 in the final at London’s Earls Court, before in 1997, ranked as the number one lady, she retired from darts due to work commitments.
A five-year sabbatical from the sport ended in 2002 when The Dark Destroyer joined the PDC circuit, where she created another slice of history.
At the 2005 UK Open, Hedman beat Aaron Turner 4-3 and Norman Fletcher 5-3, before losing 8-1 to Wayne Atwood in the last 64. It was the first time that a ladies darts player had beaten a male player in a televised major tournament.
Work commitments again forced Hedman to leave the sport again in 2007, but two years later she was able to return, this time to the BDO ladies circuit, which she has enjoyed great success in.
In fact, 73 of her 101 ranking titles in the BDO system have come since she made her latest return in 2009. And with the standard of the ladies game continuing to rise, Hedman is proud of her triumphs in the last seven years.
“For the ladies the game has come along, a long way,” the three-time World Championship finalist said. “Especially the consistency.
“To be fair back from when I was playing before, the ladies that were playing were all good in patches.
“It’s the consistency. In fairness there are 16 ladies who are now very consistent and when you do the circuit they’re always there in the last 16, depending on how the seeding goes.
“I only ever worry about my game and hopefully the darts go, so I never worry about other people and what they’re doing.”
Although the major honours in the ladies game in 2016 have gone to Trina Gulliver and Lisa Ashton, who beat Hedman in the finals of the World Championship and World Trophy, the year so far has been dominated by the Oxfordshire county player.
Take a breath first, but Hedman has won the Isle of Man Classic, Masters of Waregem, Denmark Open, Denmark Masters, Welsh Open, Polish Open, Police Masters, Swiss Open, England National Championship and England Open this year, as well as reaching the final of the Scottish Open, Isle of Man Open, German Masters, World Trophy, International Open and Gold Cup.
Although Hedman is enjoying one of the most prolific years of her career, she has started to think about her options once she puts the darts away for good.
“Me and Paul (James) used to run a youth academy,” Hedman recalls. “The venue closed down and the kids have grown up a bit now, but we might go back into it and have a look, or I might go on the officials side with the EDO.”