DANCING Dimitri van den Bergh has paid tribute to Scottish mentor Peter Wright for giving him an extra edge during lockdown.
The bubbly Belgian qualified for his first major semi-final and went up to World No.17 after beating Adrian Lewis in the quarter-finals at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.
Van den Bergh, who faces Glen Durrant in the semi-final tonight, moved in with the Wright family after being left stranded in the UK at the start of the coronavirus lockdown.
Now the youngster believes that could be a turning point in his career. He said: “My dad told me he really does think the time I had at Peter Wright’s home has made you become a man. He told me it’s made me perform. Before that you were quality but now you’re showing it.
“I had three months away from my family with Peter. I thought about my life, I thought about how far I came in my life.
“Peter has a house for him and his family he has worked hard for. So it opened up my eyes. I’ve seen what I can achieve by playing darts.
“He also showed me how he practices, how he approaches games. So many little things he told me. They are in my mind and I’ve used them. Some stuff are still his way. I personally believe the man Peter can play so much better than he already showed.
“The man is so much better, honestly, so much better than what he thinks of himself. He is holding himself back.
“His family believes in him in a way you wouldn’t believe. But I believe him in the same way his family does. Only his own mind is keeping him back.
“I have seen him practising. When he practices, his mind is so subtle, he can do things that you are looking at like “are you joking now”.
“He has 325 different sets of darts in shape, in weight, length plus shafts, stems, points. He goes up and throws them and he gets a 180. The man knows what it’s about. But the man himself is also stopping himself. He can be the World No.1. I believe he can catch up Michael.
“But Peter be careful I’ve learnt from you, I’m on my way for you!”
Van den Bergh produced a dazzling display to dump Jackpot 16-12 and was not distracted by the two-time World Champ shouting loudly to get himself fired-up.
He added: “Just simple. Before I start I knew that Adrian can be loud and vocal. But I just thought to myself focus on your game. He can be vocal as much as he likes as much as he wants.
“But in the end three darts in that board, he needs to take them out and walk back. Then I’m allowed to walk into my bubble and do my thing.
“Whether he had a big finish or score. Back to basics, focus on your darts. If you get that first dart in the treble, you can follow it up.
“I felt really arrogant, really strong, like come on, yes come on. Keep it going. I kept saying to myself keep pushing.
“As soon as I qualified for the World Matchplay I was dreaming. This is not a new territory, I always dream. I always fight to keep going further.
“It’s now three quarter-finals on the trot, World Championship, UK Open and now Matchplay. All of a sudden I’m in the semi-final.
“I’m still here, I’m still going and I want to be in that final now.”