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PDC - Darts: Exclusive interview with Jonny Clayton

Few players have had such a meteoric rise in darts like Jonny Clayton.

Despite making his PDC debut in 2015, Clayton made just three semi-finals in his first six years as a pro. But after winning the World Cup in 2020, he’s won the Grand Prix, the Masters, the Premier League and World Series of Darts.

Growing up, Clayton would watch darts on the TV around the festive period, but it wasn’t until he was much older that he turned his hand to it.

“I really enjoyed it, I liked the Lakeside at Christmas, so I followed darts always,” said Clayton. “I enjoyed the game but didn’t take notice of it until I was 24/25 where I started playing super league and county levels. I got my international cap on the BDO system, and that’s where it all began.

“I played rugby, my dad used to play darts. My family basically, my gran, my grandad, we’ve kind of been a darting family but it’s always been local leagues. As I got older, playing rugby, training on a Thursday night we needed something to do after. There was a local darts league, and we joined that and that was the start of my career.

“I broke my leg for the third time playing rugby and thought enough’s enough. So I tried the PDC, and luckily enough I won on my last day and I got my tour card. The rest has just built up from there.”

Clayton was rarely seen at the latter stages of the major tournaments, but a break at the World Cup changed everything.

“Winning the World Cup with Gerwyn Price was fantastic, what a feeling,” said Clayton. “Luckily Gerwyn was playing fantastic. He was world number 1 by a long shot. If he threw a dart with his eyes shut he’d have hit treble 20.

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“His back must’ve been breaking because he was carrying me through, but in the final I pulled my act together and started playing decent darts. To win that with a friend of mine, as a proud Welshman, it was really special.

“It was my first trophy really on the world stage, so I think that gave me confidence, I think that proved to myself that I knew I could play darts but it gave me that confidence that I could do this, so it just fired on from there. That year, 2021 was absolutely brilliant.

“I went on to win the Masters in January and there’s no better feeling. It’s a lonely place when things don’t go right, you just can’t wait to get off, but when things go good, you could stay on there forever.

“I’m still employed full-time by Carmarthenshire County Council, so by playing well, you play much more darts, so my job comes second because the darts has taken over. It’s changed my family life, absolutely. I can afford things that I couldn’t do before, we can do things that we’d have to save for a long time to do, and we live a good lifestyle.

“I’d love to become world champion. I’m a great believer that if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. If not, you try again. Nothing is put on a plate, you have to work hard for it. I don’t plan ahead, I just run with everything. That’s how I look at life. I’d love to win more titles, but to be world champion at Christmas, that would be my dream.”

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