It had been expected that Wayne Mardle, three times beaten semi-finalist, would prove too strong for the qualifier Kirk Shepherd in tonight’s semi-final. But the form book was overturned. Kirk Shepherd played without fear. Nothing To Lose + Supreme Confidence = Fearlessness.
For Wayne Mardle the weight of expectation was too much. Spirited in defeating Phil Taylor in the quarter final. Now, as favourite, there was little joy. Only pressure.
Fearlessness marks the arrival onto the sporting stage of many of the greats and legends. As if they have yet to experience doubt or uncertainty. As if the potency of their youth, aligned with no fear of failure, an unfettered sense of ambition and a natural excellence in their sport, creates an intoxicating and unstoppable mix.
Remember Michael Owen and his arrival on the world stage with his goal against Argentina. Or Wayne Rooney and his sixteen year old debut goal for Everton. Or Boris Becker enthralling Wimbledon as a teenager. Or Shane Warne bamboozling Mike Gatting with his first ball in England. Or Tiger Woods winning the Augusta Masters. Or Cassius Clay talking down Sonny Liston. No fear. Only an ‘anything is possible’ attitude.
The days rest before Tuesday’s World Darts final, may cause Kirk Shepherd to stop and think about what he has done. What he is about to do. The consequences of winning. The life changing impact of success.
But he would be wise to enter the arena as he did tonight. Almost running out. So pumped up was he. So keen to play. So full of the natural desire to compete. He doesn’t need to think. He just needs to keep doing what he is doing. In love with the intensity of the white heat of competition. A player without fear. For, after all, what is there to fear?