Three-time Lakeside world champion Martin Adams bowed out of the 2016 Grand Slam of Darts on Monday evening after suffering a 5-3 defeat against former World Grand Prix finalist Brendan Dolan. ‘Wolfie’ needed to defeat the Northern Irishman by 5-3 or better to keep alive his qualification hopes, but he narrowly fell short.
Adams performed fantastically on his debut Grand Slam campaign twelve months ago where he defeated Jelle Klaasen, Ian White and Steve Beaton to reach the knockout stages, before losing in a deciding-leg shootout to Kim Huybrechts in the last 16. Adams was arguably ‘the story’ of the competition last year.
However, the 60-year-old was understandably unable to replicate such heroics this time around, largely due to his well-documented health problems. Despite this, he still firmly made his mark on the competition.
Adams’ participation in this year’s Grand Slam was cast into genuine doubt when it was revealed in September that he’d been battling prostate cancer for the last eight months, therefore the fact he was able to compete is a triumph in itself.
Martin began his second course of radiotherapy in August and his treatment concluded in mid-September, whilst he also underwent hormone treatment alongside the radiotherapy. Since his diagnosis last year, Martin has become an ambassador for Prostate Cancer UK charity, working to raise awareness of the condition.
Inevitably, Martin’s health issues had a debilitating effect on his performances in Wolverhampton over the past three days, although he didn’t let this dampen his spirits. He still performed with a wonderful sense of enjoyment and his refreshing care-free attitude once again endeared him to the adoring Wolves crowd.
Adams still demonstrated glimpses of his class throughout his three matches. He converted fantastic 103 and 156 finishes in his tie against World Youth champion Max Hopp, whilst he also fired in two maximums in his defeat against Dolan. The quality is still there, but the consistency is understandably lacking at present.
He faced world number one Michael van Gerwen in his opening group game and managed to claim two legs against the imperious ‘Green Machine’, but the most enjoyable aspect of his performance was his interaction and camaraderie with the crowd.
MvG has become synonymous for his animated celebrations which follow a 180 or big checkout which can antagonise many top players. However, whenever MvG produced a moment of magic Martin simply laughed, applauded and continued with a smile on his face. He relished the opportunity of locking horns with the world’s best.
The Grand Slam is one of the most important ranking tournaments for PDC players, but for BDO players it’s a non-ranking event with the chance to rub shoulders against the PDC elite. However in such a competitive sporting environment, it was fantastic to see Martin demonstrate just what the game of darts is all about-enjoyment.
‘Wolfie’ is a winner. He’s won three World Championships titles, three World Masters crowns and a further 70 ranking titles. You don’t become so successful over the course of a career spanning four decades without having that competitive edge, but Martin’s current health battle puts life and darts firmly into perspective.
The overriding focus of Adams’ 2016 Grand Slam campaign should not be his averages or results, but rather the fortitude and strength he’s shown to compete in this event. Earlier this week he quipped: “You’ve just got to keep laughing” and that encompasses his character perfectly. He’s an inspiration for so many by tackling his illness head-on.
The word ‘legend’ has become somewhat of a monotonous cliché in sport. That type of praise should be reserved for players and figures who have created a legacy within their sport and will be fondly remembered for decades to come.
However in the case of Adams, legend is a fitting description. ‘Wolfie’ is unquestionably one of the greatest players of all time, but more importantly he’s a true gentlemen of the game.
This coming Friday, Adams is set to receive his cancer test results. The entire darting community will keep their fingers crossed for positive news, and hopefully Adams will return to Wolverhampton in far better health next year. Keep laughing Martin!
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC