Interview with Winmau World Master Lorraine Winstanley

Lorraine Winstanley has cemented her place at the pinnacle of women’s world darts in recent years, including reaching world number one in the world rankings, and a major title at the 2017 Winmau World Masters helping to demonstrate her talent on the televised stage. And Lorraine fondly recalls watching a fellow darts pro when she vowed to make her way to the top of the circuit, “I remember watching Trina [Gulliver] on the TV playing in the World Championship and saying to the guys in the pub, ‘I can do that’. And look at me now!”

The 2019 BDO World Championship finalist lives two rather contrasting lives, working part-time as a beauty therapist and touring the world to play in an array of BDO events. Too, with attitudes within darts and about darts as a sport regarding female involvement in some parts historically quite old-fashioned, there could be the potential for some backlash to Lorraine’s choice of a career. But Lorraine assured me the reaction had been positive, “I haven’t really come up against any resistance to me playing. I’ve been very lucky and, years ago before doing the circuit, I used to travel to local competitions and played against the men. I’ve had some great results over the years. My clients are very supportive of me playing and they know they will get me in the salon on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. They are always excited when I’m on a TV event.”

As I previously mentioned, Lorraine’s World Masters crown in 2017 helped to clearly set her apart as one of the game’s elite and was the result of numerous years of hard work. Winstanley’s path to the title included victories over Rachna David, her good friend Anastasia Dobromyslova, Tricia Wright and fellow former world finalist Corrine Hammond and she reflects happily on that title, “I’ve had a ball since starting the circuit back in 2010 and I’m immensely proud of what I’ve achieved over the last few years but winning the World Masters was a dream come true. And things just keep getting better!”

“Winning the World Masters was a dream come true”

Earlier this year, too, Lorraine reached the final of the BDO World Championship, her first final in the prestigious competition. However, it wasn’t to be, with Winstanley pipped at the post by Japanese star Mikuru Suzuki, who posted a 90+ average in her win over the 43-year-old. “This year’s World Championship was a great week for me. I didn’t start the week playing very well and I personally feel I got better as the week went on. I’m really chuffed to have made the final but I was a little frustrated as I still never played like I know I can. Mikuru’s performance in the final was amazing and she was definitely the better player on the day. I think it will bring great things, especially for ladies darts, as steel tip is very popular over in Asia and, because of this, it may bring new opportunities,” Lorraine said of what Suzuki’s success could mean for darts in Asia.

BDO World Professional Darts Championships, 11/01/2019.
Lorraine reached the final of this year’s BDO World Championship, her first world final

Back in 2018, the recent BDO World Trophy semi-finalist also competed in the PDC World Championship UK women’s qualifier, the first female-exclusive event in the PDC for nearly a decade. She was defeated by Deta Hedman in the last 16, with Lisa Ashton the eventual qualifier. “The play-offs in Milton Keynes were great,” said Lorraine on her experience at the competition. “The PDC setup is so professional and, although I had had the added bonus of being in that environment watching Dean [Winstanley, her husband] play already, it was a whole new ball game when it was me stood the other side of those barriers. It was incredibly tense and I loved every minute.”

“I’d love there to be a ladies tour within the PDC system”

And it wasn’t long before Lorraine made her return to the PDC. Following the decision of Des Jacklin to not restrict BDO players from competing in Q-School in any way, the Buxton star entered herself in the competition. On the first day, she knocked out John Part, three-times world champion, and made one run to the last 64 and last 128 among the four days of action. “PDC Q-School was a fabulous experience and I entered with no expectations. I felt extremely comfortable in that environment and I think the standard of my games reflect that. I have really enjoyed the Development Tour this year and it’s just great to play in such professional conditions. I’d love there to be a ladies tour within the PDC system.”

BDO chairman Des Jacklin has also committed to extending the format of the women’s game within his organisation, particularly at the upcoming World Championship, something which has long been called for by fans and players alike. And Winstanley is no exception, “The ladies competition has been crying out for bigger prize money and I think the viewing figures show the ladies game is very popular. It will never be equal – we know this (as more men play than women) – but a lesser gap would be much better. We definitely need to have a longer format; I’m a fan of that.”

And Lorraine isn’t the only Winstanley active on the tour. Her husband, Dean, is a former BDO World Championship finalist and PDC Pro Tour regular. And, despite no longer having a Tour Card, still dips his toes in the circuit and is a well-known player amongst fans, memorably hitting a nine-darter against Vincent van der Voort back in the 2013 PDC World Championship. “I love the fact both Dean and I play darts,” said Lorraine. ”

“I also think it makes it harder to watch the other one playing as we know exactly what emotions they are going through. I know I throw every dart with Dean. After testing his shoulder, Dean is doing some of the BDO circuit this year and hoping to get back into playing more regularly. Dean works full time so we don’t get to spend much time together in the week and I think this works for us as now we both have interests outside the darts which in turn makes us enjoy it more. It’s nice to be able to spend the weekends together doing something we both love.”

Image Credits: BDO

Thanks to Lorraine Winstanley

 

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