By Phil Lanning
LEGEND Raymond van Barneveld admitted he was left “panicking” after his shock collapse at the Super Series last month.
The five-times World Champion has spoken for the first time since he was taken ill in Milton Keynes on day four of the Super Series.
RVB, 53, blacked out while marking another game but has since had the all-clear from docs to resume competitive darts in the latest Pro Tour in Niedernhausen tomorrow.
Barney admits that his dad suffering a stroke, part of his house collapsing and the stress of returning to the PDC all contributed to his ordeal.
Oche Editor Phil Lanning spoke to Van Barneveld earlier this week…
PL: What happened in the lead up to the Super Series?
RVB: “My dad had a stroke on the Sunday night, the next morning we drove to England.
“So I had a guilty feeling in my system leaving my dad and family alone. It wasn’t good in my head.
“My mum gave me the all-clear that he was fine and stable so she said go to England and do your thing.
“This was after the side wall of my house collapsed on February 7. A lot of issues, a lot of things, a lot of worry in my system.
“Then the darts. Three times losing first round, one time second round. Of course that was stress as well.
“I didn’t eat properly the night before or the morning. In the end it took its toll on my body.
“My blood pressure was really low when I was laying on the ground. I was marking the game at 5-5 nothing was wrong.
“Then suddenly it went dark. I was laying on the ground. It was very weird.
“Everyone thought it was my sugar level but there was nothing wrong, my sugar was 13.4 after a dextro tablet. It is high but it’s not alarming.
“So that was not the issue, it was just maybe panic or stress I guess.
“So I went to the doctors and had a blood test, that was fine. A little bit too high and cholesterol too high.
“Last Friday I had a heart test, that’s all in order, fantastic. And blood pressure, all fine.
“I’m managing to get my blood sugar levels really low between five and seven every morning. I work out on the bicycle every morning and practice. I feel really OK at the moment.”
PL: Is there any explanation for what caused the funny turn?
RVB: “No, not really. It just seems to be stress.
“The night before I didn’t eat. I’m not a big breakfast eater. But like people say, a car can’t drive if it’s running out of petrol. Your body is the same.
“When you are diabetic like I am, then it goes all wrong.
“The trouble is the stress, losing three days before in first round and then in second round. You feel ‘do I need to be here, I should be there with my dad’.
“You have the feeling of guilt as well. In the end my body said stop.
“Because of Covid you have to mark the games when you go out. It’s quite claustrophobic because you are just looking up at the scores and looking around.
“It’s a long time standing for 20 minutes or more. It just went all dark in my head before I knew it I was laying on the ground.”
PL: Were you scared and worried with the shock?
RVB: “After that sure because you don’t know what it is. I didn’t know how long I had been laying there before I came back.
“My partner Julia was straight there. Everyone was around me. Daryl Gurney was there saying ‘are you OK pal’. But I don’t know how long I was laying there. I guess maybe 20 seconds and when I came back they put me in a chair.
“They did the blood pressure and then I collapsed again. I did that three times. The blood pressure was between 60 and 70 which is really low, I never had so low in my life.
“After that I was really panicking for a week or two. I felt really hot and dizzy again, afraid that it might happen again. For the last two weeks I’m OK.
“I’m doing fitness now on the bike and I walk the dog with Julia. Not much darts practice for the last two weeks but I will do that now.
“One day before Q School in Germany my house collapsed. It’s almost sorted now but every day it caused Julia and I so much stress and energy.
“The issue with my dad of course. He is very good at the moment. He talks a bit slower. It’s difficult to see him if he can’t speak or lift his arm. For a whole week that was in my head.
“He’s 75 and you start panicking. I didn’t have contact with him for two days.
“I got a message I was driving to his home and I thought I was going to find him dead. Thankfully he opened the door, he wasn’t right. I called Dutch 911 and he went to hospital for four nights and he was OK.”
PL: Do you regret coming back into the PDC?
RVB: “No absolutely not. I love it and I’m over the moon that I have another chance. I never expected so soon to win a Pro Tour. I never expected it to happen so quick.
“Because of that I’m in the race to qualify for the World Matchplay. I always need a target.
“The original target was the World Championship but now it’s changed to the Matchplay, I can manage that.
“Now I’ve put myself under more pressure. But I need to say to myself ‘Ray relax’.
“I have my tour card for two years and I’ve qualified for the Worlds already. Just be normal, start playing and love the game. Every round I win that’s a bonus. That’s what I must keep telling myself.
“I think I need a couple of thousand pounds. I think if I get £3,000 or £5,000 I can be really safe for a Matchplay place. I have to do my best.”
PL: It must have been nice to get so much support from other players and fans?
RVB: “I got messages from Glen Durrant, Gerwyn Price, Rob Cross. Adrian Lewis was really in shock when I was laying on the ground. He was really looking after me and worried. Phil (Taylor) text me to ask what happened.”
PL: As you are diabetic, is it an added worry with Covid-19 to travel to Germany for Super Series?
RVB: “Holland is very late, very poor here. Not many people have had vaccine. My mum and dad have had it but they are in their 70s. I’m diabetic so I thought I might have had mine earlier but I’ve had no letter yet.
“You are vulnerable. You are panicking, you don’t want to think of what happened to Gerwyn Price the other day.
“I had the same going to Milton Keynes for UK Open. It was there when Justin Pipe had nothing wrong, then suddenly positive.
“You can prepare and work hard for a tournament and then lose a place after test. It’s more stress to think about it.
“Of course you see other people. You try to stay home as much as possible and very rarely I see my kids. We stick to all the rules but you never know.”
Images by Taylor Lanning.