Today we are joined by Linda Batten-Duffy, She is a former world number one for over five years (1982-1987)and holder of over 30 major titles spanning over 30 years.
Linda also played for England for over 10 years and captained England for the majority of that time.
Linda also captained the London county team for over 20 years, and was the first ever lady to be voted North American tournament’s most valuable player.
Linda is now a sports psychologist, and also has managed former world champions Bob Anderson and Keith Deller and several other top players at her previous company ‘Linda Batten Sports’.
Linda currently owns Epic Sports Management with offers sports science support, management and the psychological side of the game too.
Also run by Linda and her two sons, Rory and Myles is the Epic Retail store which is a trophy and Darts shop located in Waltham Abbey, Essex.
Thanks for joining us Linda, what a glittering career you have had in the world of darts, first we must ask what was your favourite moment in your career?
“There have been several great moments, first game for England, becoming England Captain, Most Valuable Player at the North American Open ( first woman to do it), 2x British Opens, European Champion etc. But I guess the best must be winning the World Cup Singles in Brisbane 1985, particularly as I was controversially left out of the World Cup Team in 1983”
With over 30 years of experience playing the game, what made you call it a day on your darts career?
“I got married in 1988 and had my first son, then my second son in 1991. I stopped travelling to tournaments in 1987 but carried on playing county for London until 1996. I wanted to be home with my family”
You are now a sports psychologist, please tell us more about what that involves and what you offer your clients?
“When my sons were small I went back to school and studied psychology. Then went to university and gained a doctorate, specialising in sport psychology. I now teach at university and have a consultancy working with elite sports performers. This mainly involves helping them improve their performance and maintaining high levels of performance from a psychological perspective”
You managed previously world champions, Keith Deller, Bob Anderson and other great players how did you get into that?
“I met Keith in 1980 and he was really keen to do well so myself and partner at the time, John Markovic, took him to see Harry Kicks Snr the owner at Winmau. They were sponsoring me at the time and agreed to sponsor Keith also. I had a company at the time called Linda Batten Sports so I signed Keith up to that company and we managed him. I took him with me to all the ranking events with me and when he won the LA Open in 1982 he gained a qualification spot for the 1983 world championships. He got through the qualification at the Rainbow Suite, Kensington, in December 1982 and the rest is history as they say. I met Bob in 1983 and he approached us to join our team. He was dedicated and obviously a great talent. Again we found him sponsorship and took him on the circuit for experience and he developed into a great player”
You also manage players including youngster Josh Payne what does that involve and how far do you think the youngster can go?
“Josh is a fantastic talent, he reminds me of Keith as he’s dedicated and is focuses on getting to the top. In my opinion he is the best young player around purely because of his potential and consistency. His game is improving all the time and his match management shows maturity beyond his years. He has just turned 22 years old so has time on his side, I think he will be a top 16 player in 2/3 years time and certainly will win majors later on in his career”
You also have Epic Darts and trophy shop how is that going for you ?
“It’s going really well, like any new business it takes time to develop. My sons actually own the business and do the work – I just advise them”
Do you get to many darts tournaments ? and does it give you the urge to get playing again ?
“I go to most of the tournaments to watch Josh and thoroughly enjoy watching him. I would love to play again as I miss competing – but I couldn’t put the required practice in now. So I’ll just watch for now”
Its fair to say you are a legend of the ladies game who was your toughest opponent in your career?
Whats the best advice you have ever been given?
“Don’t listen to people’s opinions, just focus on playing your best”
Do you think the ladies game is vastly improving with some of the female professionals pushing the 100 average, for example Lisa Ashton and Fallon Sherrock?
“Yes it’s improved greatly for a few players, I would like to see a bit more strength in depth. But overall the Ladies game is moving in the right direction”
You have played darts all over the world what was your favourite venue to play in ?
” I have two, the Cat’s Whiskers in Streatham, London, the London County venue and the Sahara Hotel Las Vegas, venue for the North American Open during the 1980’s”
What made you want to take up playing darts? And when did you realise you had a real talent?
” I started playing in my local pub. I used to go and watch the local team, The Windmill, play in the Enfield and District local league, they played a straight 8 of 3001 up and I used to chalk for them and they would leg me play a few games after the match. Women were not allowed to sign up for the team. Shortly after I started playing began to beat many of the men in the team – I was only about 17 years old do as you can imagine this didn’t go down very well! I realised quite soon that I was good at darts although in the early days I played other sports so didn’t focus on darts straight away”
Who are you tipping to win Lakeside 2016 ladies title?
“Maybe Fallon Sherrock this year, although Lisa will be favourite I’m sure. I would like to see Deta win it, she’s been a great player down the years and it would be a shame if she never wins it”
Thanks for your time Linda it has been a pleasure…