In today’s glitzy and glamourous world of professional darts, no player stands out from the crowd quite like Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright thanks to his colourful mohawk hairstyle and even more colourful attire.
His high-energy walk-on performance, to the strains of Don’t Stop The Party,
is an eagerly awaited highlight at every PDC tournament and his army of supporters, complete with mohawk wigs, grows at every event.
Though far from being a stranger to the winner’s podium – he won his first PDC ranking title in 2012 – the 47-year-old Scot truly made his mark on the public consciousness in 2014 when he reached the finals of the world championships against Michael van Gerwen.
Though he lost that match, Peter’s never say die attitude won respect and admiration from a global audience. He lost 12 of the first 14 legs before fighting back to win the next two sets, and almost the third. When van Gerwen re-asserted a 6-2 lead, the 47-year Peter fought back again, winning another two sets.
That performance not only saw Peter pick up Most Improved and Player of the Year awards that year, it lit the fuse on what has become a meteoric career. Today he is ranked number three in the world and this year won his first TV major, the UK Open, forever putting to bed the potential to be labelled as one of the sport’s nearly men.
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Peter lifts his first TV Major in Minehead[/caption]
For anyone other than those for whom darts is a passion, Peter’s success may seem to have come from nowhere, as if he had somehow been hidden away and only recently deigned to share his darting prowess with the rest of us.
In reality, Peter’s relatively recent success follows many years as one of the game’s ‘also-rans’; many of the people we are used to seeing him dismiss today handed out beatings to Peter in the past. Richie Burnett put him out of his debut BDO World Championships in 1995 at the first hurdle; Colin Lloyd and Terry Jenkins knocked him out of the first rounds of the 2009 Las Vegas Desert Classic and World Matchplay respectively; and in his 2010 debut at the Players Championships Finals, Wes Newton knocked him out – again in the first round.
Disappointments like these only served to galvanise Peter and the persona and player we know today – spiky hair and fancy pants – began to emerge.
“My wife Jo has always been the driving force behind me,” he says. “Many years ago she persuaded me to persevere with the professional game after we watched the Grand Slam of Darts on TV and I told her I’d beaten some of the players.
“She encouraged me to have a strong stage presence and in 2009 I took the plunge, bought a few pairs of colourful trousers and let Jo go to town on the hair-do.”
As anyone who has met Peter, or even seen him interviewed on TV, will know, the off-stage man couldn’t be more different. He comes across as thoughtful, softly spoken, humble and full of respect for others.
“The on-stage Peter Wright wasn’t so much an overnight, contrived character,” he says. “It was more an evolution into the person that wanted to come out. Darts is an entertainment business. People work hard and pay hard-earned money to be entertained; I believe we have to give them more than great darts to watch.”
Many would make the assumption that Peter’s rise up the rankings was somehow purely the result of his on-stage alter ego coming to the fore – certainly the two things seemed to coincide. However, they’d be wrong, well in part at least.
“It takes Jo two hours to do my hair. That time helps me relax and focus on the job ahead of me,” he says. “And when I put the jazzy trousers on I transform into a different persona – more focused.”
However, the real foundation to Peter’s success is his family. “A few things that have helped me improve my game somewhere close to what I know I’m capable of, but the most important has been the solid family base that allows me time to focus solely on my game,” he says.
Building on that platform is an enduring passion for the game. “I just loving playing darts. I’m still like an excited teenager when it comes to playing events and exhibitions,” he laughs.
Professional darts is full of top players who, having eventually won their first major TV title, fade away again, as if their one success was sufficient to tick a box that badly needed ticking. However, for Peter, ambition to win more titles keeps him going. Currently sitting second in the table, his immediate target is the 2017 Premier League title, but his real target is the biggest prize of them all.
“I’ve always had a burning passion to be a world champion and I’ll keep trying to achieve this whatever life throws at me,” he says.
Indicative of his drive and determination is Peter’s refusal to accept that the standard of his game is as good as it will ever get. When he hit the second highest televised average – 119.50 – against Adrian Lewis in this year’s Premier League he said “there’s more in the tank” in interview afterwards.
Other than his mohawk hair-do, fancy pants and phenomenal darts, Peter is known for his willingness to try new equipment to eek out another fraction of improvement. Whilst other players will experiment with tweaks to flights or stems, Peter is willing to change to completely different sets of darts. When he reached the finals of the 2014 PDC world championships he used a different set up in every round.
Satisfying his desire to constantly tinker is the job of Red Dragon Darts, the company that has sponsored Peter since 2010 and has the job of turning his needs into tungsten and plastic.
“Peter has spent many hours with our technicians who have analysed his throw and have developed all the darts he uses,” says the company’s head of marketing, Simon Hall. “But such is his crazy schedule, we often have to produce new designs on the basis of telephone calls, emails and courier deliveries.”
Having worked together for so many years though, the technicians at Red Dragon Darts have developed a sixth sense of what Peter is trying to achieve. “I know I am demanding,” says Peter. “I’ll never be satisfied with my game, there’s always room to improve. Red Dragon Darts has been tremendous. Endlessly patient with me, they somehow interpret what I am trying to achieve and turn out great darts. They are great partners.”
You can check out Red Dragon Darts range of Peter Wright darts for yourself at https://www.reddragondarts.com/darts/darts-ranges/peter-wright.html