At just 13 years old, Leighton Bennett has already left an indelible mark on the sport of darts.
The Lincolnshire ace beat Nathan Girvan 3-0 to claim the BDO World Youth Championship title on debut. Bennett has been making waves in the game for a while, especially since a shock senior win at the Cambridgeshire Open. He has joined Girvan and a clutch of youth talent in Target Darts’ academy program, led by Darryl Fitton. But there’s only one Target stablemate that the prodigy wants to emulate – 16-time world champion Phil Taylor.
“I just want to try and do exactly what Phil’s done – I want to make history,” Bennett told Target’s blog.
I got told that I was the youngest ever winner [of the World Youth Championship]; it’s awesome knowing you’ve broken a world record.”
The 13-year-old has been given not just by Fitton and Target, but by 2018 world champion Rob Cross. They have all had their own impact in the embryonic stages of what could be a remarkable career.
“I couldn’t believe it, getting sponsored by them (Target), because I knew all the best youths in the world were sponsored by them – it’s awesome.
“Darryl just told me to keep doing what I’m doing. I’m sponsored by Target, won the World final, and the Cambridgeshire Open… so I’m doing something right.”
He added: “It was definitely Phil Taylor that was my hero when I first started, but now it’s Rob Cross because of everything he’s doing – and they’re both such nice people.”
Keeping it simple
Bennett still has many years left in which to hone his game on the youth circuit. His eye-catching performances have started murmurings about when the talented youngster will take a shot at the PDC Pro Tour, but for now the new world champion is keeping things simple – and that means practicing at every possible opportunity.
“I probably practice 4-5 hours a day. If I’m playing well it might be more like six or seven,” he said.
“I practice straight away when I get back from school – I might have a couple of minutes with my mum and dad, but then I’m straight back on the board.
“Dad says if there’s ever a day that I don’t want to play, then it’s OK. But there aren’t many days that I don’t want to.”
Author: Ed McCosh