Peter Wright on practising in isolation with a fellow world champion

By Phil CartwrightBBC Sport
Peter and Jo Wright with the PDC World Championship trophy
Peter Wright's wife, Jo, has had to close her hairdressing salon because of the coronavirus pandemic

Darts is a one-on-one sport played indoors, so you would think that being forced into isolation would not affect a professional's regime too much.

The coronavirus pandemic might have ended competitive action for the time being, but long hours throwing in a room at home are most top darts players' bread and butter.

But who do you play against? With the roars and songs from crowds of thousands a more distant memory each day, how do you keep those competitive juices flowing?

In Peter Wright's case, it helps that he is not the only world champion in the household at the moment.

"You miss competition practice but luckily we've had Dimitri van den Bergh staying with us," said Wright of his Suffolk farm's temporary house guest, who won the World Youth Championship in 2017 and 2018.

"We're putting him up because of all that's gone on in Belgium and across Europe as well.

"Two world champions practising together - you can't get any better.

"Having Dimitri here fills the gap of competition darts against an excellent player."

And there is a plan in place if motivation levels begin to dip.

Wright continued: "If it goes on for a longer period of time, myself and Dimitri will have to find things to play for. Maybe whoever loses has to muck out the chickens, or the loser has to cook. We'll just put other things on it."

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The 50-year-old known as "Snakebite", who won the PDC World Championship for the first time in January, is one of the most recognisable figures in darts.

But Wright's sport is no different to any other at present, with tournaments suspended while measures are in place to limit the spread of coronavirus.

All five rounds of Premier League fixtures in April have been postponed, there are severe doubts about May's schedule too, and there is no definitive news yet about the status of the upcoming World Series, which should see some of the PDC's top stars travel as far afield as the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

The iconic Madison Square Garden in New York is scheduled to host the first World Series event in early June.

"I don't know if we're going or not, obviously because Australia and everywhere else is on lockdown," Wright told BBC Sport. "Fingers crossed, everything is sorted by then.

"I miss all of the crowds and the fans. It's very difficult. But if everyone does as they're told, we'll hopefully be out there much quicker and all of the sports and everyone's life will get back to normal hopefully.

"Personally, I don't think there will be anything until September, but hopefully I'm wrong and we can get back on at the end of May or June."

The isolation period has given Wright some time to do some of the household chores he has been unable to carry out since winning the world title at the start of the year.

Among them was packing the Christmas decorations into storage for another few months. In fairness, he was celebrating winning a world title at about the same time he should have been doing that job.

But alongside the light-hearted jokes comes news of the negative impact that coronavirus has had on the Wright family.

His wife, Jo, who spends up to three hours before all of Wright's matches perfecting his colourful look for the oche, has seen her hairdressing salon close in recent weeks because of social distancing.

"Both of our daughters work there as well," said Wright. "They're not at work, so that's not good either.

"It's not a good place to be, but there are a lot of people in the same boat and even worse. You can't complain. You've just got to get on with it and hope it clears up soon."

Wright and Jo have been doing their bit for the local community in the meantime, offering eggs from their farm to elderly people in the area.

Wright may have to wait a while longer to throw a competitive dart, but he came close to winning an event of sorts earlier this week.

The PDC has been asking its Twitter followers to vote for their winner in the "Walk-On World Cup", selecting 64 of the best player entrances from past and present.

Wright side-stepping across the stage to the strains of Pitbull's "Don't Stop The Party" has become a regular sight in the latter stages of major tournaments in recent years and it made the semi-final of the Walk-On World Cup, losing narrowly to recently retired Dutch legend Raymond van Barneveld.

"I would have picked Devon Petersen to win it," said the Scot.

"Lots of players are dancing now but they're younger and do it better than me. I'm just an old guy jumping across the stage!

"Maybe I'll get some lessons from Dimitri."

Dimitri Van den Bergh
Dimitri Van den Bergh is one of a host of young players showing their silky footwork when entering the oche - but the Belgian's dance moves to "Happy" by Pharrell Williams went out in the last 16 of the PDC's Walk-On World Cup...
Peter Wright walk-on
...whereas Wright, 25 years Van den Bergh's senior, made it to the semi-finals