Haylock: I’ll be champ again

It’s rare in Cayman to talk about a
local being the reigning Caribbean champion in a particular sport. However that
is case with Edsell Haylock in the world of darts.

Haylock is the defending champ for
darts in the singles version of the sport. The born-and-bred West Bayer is
slated to put his title on the line this week at the 2010 Caribbean
Championships in Abaco, Bahamas. Haylock is part of a Cayman team that will be
in action 20-31 August against a number of regional foes like Jamaica, the US
and Barbados.

Haylock, 33, states he is ready for
the upcoming tournament.

“I’m ready, I feel ready,” Haylock
said. “I admit I slacked off during the team qualifying stages but the thing
people overlook is darts is mental. If you’re mentally ready you’re ready. The
physical skills are always there. It’s like riding a bike.”

Two years ago Haylock announced
himself and Cayman darts to the region when he won his title in Trinidad. His
victory allowed Cayman to place fourth overall, the highest finish of any
Cayman darts team in recent history. Haylock states he is prepared to replicate
similar success this time around.

“What you have to understand is the
singles championship is worth a lot of points; I believe it’s about 20 points
out of your total score. If I didn’t win in Trinidad we would have come eighth.
So the singles event is the highlight of the tournament. It is the ultimate big
game.

“I believe I can do it again. I’ve
been practising about 11 months prior to this event nearly every day. I’m
healthy and I’ll give it 110 percent. I’m proud to play for my country and wear
the coat of arms. I’ll try not to let any of my people down. I agree with (head
coach) Tony (Archibold) in that there is a bull’s eye on my back. But I’m
coming for them. I’m back so watch out.”

A big reason why Haylock is
confident is the level of skill and experience on the Cayman team. The men
boast a number of established players like team captain Eddie Ballantyne,
defending Mickey Mouse tournament champion Mel Tagalog and Bahamian legend Earl
Smith. For the women there is former US champion Linda Locke and long-standing
local stars Michelle Cullen and Miriam Rodriguez.

Haylock states any member of the
team can perform well and help Cayman finish high and produce another singles
champion.

“I think I have a good team. Anyone
on the team can win because they have enough skills. A lot of foreigners are on
the team, I’d say about 10 nationalities in fact, but that’s good. We got
people from all over the world used to darts at high levels.

“In fact this is the best team, in
my opinion, to have left Cayman to play darts. Those guys in Bahamas know who I
am and that’s good. That means a lot of attention will be on me and my
team-mates can step up and win. For us to win as a team is the main thing. I’d
feel very happy if I win or a team-mate wins the singles event because at the
end of the day it’s about Cayman, not me.”

Haylock went on to say that the key
for Cayman is not technique or strategy but mental concentration.

“We have a great team. We just got
to stay focused and stick with the game plan. The joke I make is if you going
there to do fishing then don’t do darts. We just have to go down there and play
our best. I feel confident in myself and the team. As a champion I know we
cannot afford to lose our focus.

“The team is leaving on Thursday
(19 August) but for personal reasons I’m heading out Wednesday (18 August). At
this time I’d like to thank my personal sponsors who made my trip possible in
Green Holdings Ltd, Selkirk Watler, Pamela Webster, Mark Campbell, Dano Lamarca
and Michelle McLeod.”

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