As someone with a fierce competitive streak and love for high-level darts tournaments, it has been a rough couple of months for Harith Lim, one of Singapore’s top darts players. With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the cancellation of darts competitions all over the world, the former world youth champion has been relegated to practicing at home without an end goal in sight.
In an exclusive interview with danamic., the 50-year-old shared: “As you know, all the competitions have been cancelled around the world and we cannot compete. This slows down our competitiveness but as sportsmen, we have to continue training and be ready to compete anytime.
“It’s definitely not easy to keep practicing without any real competitions and it takes a lot of experience to do this. But darts is a very mental game especially at the highest level and our mental state has to be really stable. It’s pretty tough, but we have to keep going.”
But it has not been all practice without any actual matches as Harith has also taken online to have the occasional friendly duel with other world class players from all over the world through his electronic dartboard at home. However, while he is thankful that technology has allowed players the opportunity to have some form of competition even during this period, he feels that there is still a world of difference between competing in the flesh.
“It’s totally different. When you play online, you are in your comfort zone at home and you don’t see your opponent physically. When you are playing in the actual competition in the tournament hall, your opponent is beside you and everyone is watching you. The atmosphere is totally different and how composed you are will come into play,” he explained.
Other than the loss of opportunities to compete, Harith’s revenue streams from darts have also unsurprisingly dried up as well.
“The sponsorships that we get every year from the various darts brands have not been affected as they are based on contracts. But the prize money that we earn from winning competitions has definitely affected me,” said Harith, who also holds a full-time job in the property development industry.
“Although I don’t fully depend on the prize money for survival but it is still a culmination of all my hard work, blood and sweat as winning competitions is not easy at the world class level. Other than that, my earnings from the darts clinics that I regularly conduct for beginner and intermediate players have also been affected as well due to the closure of darts bars and cafes.”
Despite these setbacks, Harith has chosen to remain optimistic and is hopeful that things will gradually return to normal for both himself and the wider darts fraternity.
“I miss travelling and competing. I miss sharing the love of the game with people from all over the world. I have got fans from all over the world and we used to connect so regularly. It’s difficult when everything is suddenly cut off just like that,” he admitted ruefully.
“But I have started to think positive and have been telling myself that things are going to be over soon. With Singapore moving to Phase 2, we are now able to eat out and it’s definitely a sign of progress. Hopefully, we will be able to return to the darts bars and cafes and start playing again soon.”
And he hopes that his fellow darters in the community will similarly adopt a positive mindset and keep the fire for the game burning strong.
He added: “I know that everyone is very disappointed and eager to play but because of this situation, everything has to slow down. But my advice would be to not lose that interest and keep that passion going. Just look forward and when things go back to normal, we will be able to enjoy having fun and competing again.”
Back in 2017, Harith, together with veteran darter Paul Lim, placed Singapore on the world map by shocking top seeds Scotland in the prestigious PDC World Cup of Darts. It was a true underdog story for the ages and Harith has constantly risen against the odds throughout his darts career. And with his positive mindset, don’t bet against him achieving more glory once the competitions resume.
This article is part of a new series, Coping during COVID, where danamic. features people from different walks of life to find out more about how they have been coping since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the shores of Singapore. Have a specific person or demographic you’d like us to feature? Write in: [email protected]
Photos courtesy of Harith Lim.