World no1 Michael van Gerwen surged to success to hold off the challenge of Peter 'Snakebite' Wright and retain his Dubai Duty Free Masters title with a relentless 11-7 final victory.
In front of a boisterous Dubai Tennis Stadium crowd, 'Mighty Mike' showed his class to reel off four legs in a row either side of the half-way mark to go 8-5 up.
There was to be no way back for Wright – boasting a psychedelically-coloured mohican with 'Dubai' written on his head in diamante – against the reigning Professional Darts Corporation World Darts Champion.
Van Gerwen finished in style, scoring his ninth 180 of the contest before pinning double 16. The Dutch Master's reward for heading the elite field for the two-day event containing the top-eight ranked players in the game was a $50,000 prize.
A scrappy affair saw Wright, who beat legendary 16-time world champion Phil 'The Power' Taylor on Thursday, see off fellow World Series debutant Dave Chisnall 11-8.
He was fighting against history in the decider, with Van Gerwen boasting a 20-7 win record in contests between them.
'Mighty Mike' started the decider played under sweltering night-time conditions with purpose, raising the crowd to its feet with a 180 with his first throw.
Wright – who has surged up the rankings from 23rd to 5th this year – remained undaunted, the pair sharing the first six legs.
Although there was nothing to separate them on the scoreboard, Van Gerwen was ramping up the pressure with an average-score-per throw weighing in at 10 higher.
England's Wright was refusing to crack, holding his nerve to checkout on bullseye with the Dutchman poised on 40 to level up at 4-4.
A remarkable 10th leg saw an emotional Van Gerwen pump the air with relief after going two-up for the first time, closing on 4 after both missed a series of presentable chances.
A break of throw followed for Van Gerwen, leaving 'Snakebite' with a huge challenge to recover. Wright showed he was not finished to give himself a glimmer of hope, checking out superbly from 158 to level to 9-6.
The door was quickly closed, to cement Van Gerwen's status as darts' preeminent force.
Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright stunned Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor to reach the semi-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters, while there were wins for Michael van Gerwen, Adrian Lewis and Dave Chisnall.
Wright, who has surged up the rankings to enter the tournament ranked No5, solidified his status as an elite-level player with a 10-5 victory over 16-time world champion Taylor.
The first ten legs were shared between the two, but a stunning 141 finish from Wright in the 11th – with Taylor waiting on a double – proved to be the crucial turning point.
Finishes of 96 and 70 moved Wright into an 8-5 lead before the 44-year-old Scot condemned Taylor to his second successive opening round defeat in Dubai.
"I'm delighted to get the win," admitted Wright. "I got a bit emotional on stage and it means a lot to beat Phil. "He's the best player who's ever lived and he always comes back stronger and stronger, which makes all of us lift our game again. He wasn't at his best tonight but I'm over the moon to beat him.”
Wright will face a fellow World Series of Darts newcomer in Dave Chisnall after the Englishman edged Australian Simon Whitlock in a thrilling 10-8 encounter.
In a high-scoring match, both players averaged over 100 per visit, with Whitlock hitting nine 180s and claiming finishes of 152 and 108 to build up leads of 5-2 and 7-5.
However, Chisnall hit three 11-dart finishes to level at 7-7 before claiming a 121 checkout on the bullseye in a run of three successive legs to secure victory.
"It's a great win for me and it was a good game," said Chisnall. "It's a pity there was a loser but I played quite well there and dug in. "Simon got into the lead at 5-2 but I thought I was still in the game and when I got a chance to hit back I took it well. I'm glad to come through it and I'm looking forward to the rest of the tournament on Friday."
Reigning champion van Gerwen booked his place in the final four with a narrow 10-9 win over James Wade.
Wade started superbly to establish 3-1 and 5-3 leads before van Gerwen struck back to claim five successive legs.
Wade responded to level at 8-8, but after van Gerwen hit double top to edge ahead, a 120-checkout from the Englishman sent the contest into a deciding leg. But it was Dutchman van Gerwen who prevailed with a 63 finish to progress to the semi-finals and set up a showdown with Lewis.
"It was a great game," said van Gerwen. "I think I was the most consistent player and that's why I came through it, but James is a fantastic player. "I was maybe trying a little too hard but I got the win and that's the most important thing. I had to fight very hard against him, and I want to play even better tomorrow.
"Adrian's always a big challenge and it's not easy to win this tournament. It's an amazing tournament and I'm really looking forward to Friday."
Meanwhile, World No3 Lewis kicked-off the event with a superb performance to defeat crowd favourite Raymond van Barevel 10-5.
"I really enjoyed that," said Lewis. "I knew it would be tough against Barney after winning the Premier League last week, but I had to hit him early and I did the job tonight.
"I finished well and double top didn't let me down tonight. If I can keep that up on Friday then there's no reason why I can't go all the way."
The Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters will be shown live on Dubai Sports TV as well as through OSN across the Middle East.
Tickets and Corporate Hospitality tables for the Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters can be purchase from Irish Village (+971 (0)4 239 5000) and Time Out Tickets (www.timeouttickets.com).
Coverage on each day will commence at 8pm (UAE time)
Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters Line-up
Friday May 30 (8pm-11pm)
Michael van Gerwen v Adrian Lewis
Peter Wright v Dave Chisnall
Best of 21 legs
van Gerwen/Lewis v Wright/Chisnall
Best of 21 legs
The growing UAE weightlifting community was thrilled to hear about the visit to Dubai of one of the best weightlifters in the world, Dmitry Klokov.
The Russian won the silver medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in China and is also a World Champion in the 105kg category.
His recent visit to Dubai was part of a world tour, where he shared the Russian system in training and technique at various seminars, which took place over two weekends at Dunes CrossFit, Reebok CrossFit LifeSpark and Cross-Fit Utmost.
With 20 years of weightlifting experience under his belt, Klokov’s knowledge is invaluable to weightlifters in the UAE, especially as there has been a CrossFit boom.
Sport360° caught up with him at one of the seminars, to talk about the world of weightlifting.
You are a world champion and have many successes under your belt – you make lifting a heavy barbell look so easy and effortless. How did you get into weightlifting?
My father [Vyacheslavovich Klokov] was a weightlifting world champion in 1983. At first, he did not want me to do weightlifting professionally. He wanted me to study at a good university and gain knowledge.
In those years, there was very little money in weightlifting and there was always the possibility of getting injured. Now everything has changed. My father has no regrets that I started weightlifting [at the age of 12].
My coach was the same coach who coached my father and the result was very good. It is very important that you have the right information and a good coach.
What goes through your head before you attempt a lift or when you PR?
The result to a PR [personal record] is a lot of hard work and patience. And of course, good luck – I was very lucky in this sport.
The clean-and-jerk. My father was a world record holder in the clean-and-jerk and he pretty much knows everything about it; and he taught me everything I know that has helped me very much in this lift.
But in 2006, I hurt my right shoulder badly and lost flexibility. Now that I have become better, I am enjoying the jerk again.
Tell us more about your training programme. Can anyone use it?
Of course there is a certain system that we use, the Russian system, which has been tested for years and suits me the best. It doesn’t mean it may suit all other athletes – each should be looked at individually.
I am coaching a couple of guys online, and I use the Russian system, but I also take into account individual circumstances and [look at] problem areas.
What competitions are you preparing for right now?
In 2014, I totally gave up training as I am doing a world tour [seminars]; but I am still doing functional training. Although when I am seriously preparing, I have more time to work on endurance too.
This method works for me and makes me better – I am likely to start lifting heavier weights starting next year in April.
Given you were injured before the 2012 London Olympics, are you preparing a comeback at the 2016 Rio Olympics? How is your training different?
That injury was my destiny! As for preparation for the Rio Olympics, I believe in my system and nothing will change, and I can only hope for more luck.
What is your diet like? What should a weightlifter eat?
Generally, weightlifters do not have a diet, and it is not a necessity in weightlifting. But for me, my appearance is the result of my diet and genetics.
Moreover, I am also doing shows and have to keep the appearance. I do not tell everyone how and what I do, it’s a little secret! All I will say is this, we are what we eat. If we eat fat, we are fat. If we eat meat, we are meat!
Tell us about your involvement with Cross- Fit. What do you think of it? How do you think it affects the sports of weightlifting?
At first, I just liked a picture of a CrossFit competition on the internet. Then I began to understand what CrossFit is about. I think it is a very good idea. Ordinary people get together, adding a competition-like environment. Now, anyone can compete with himself and others. That is not possible in a normal fitness routine.
What I like about CrossFit is that it is like a family, a very close family. I am pretty sure that CrossFit has made weightlifting popular.
What is the level of weightlifting that you saw in Dubai during your trip?
Except in some countries where there is a school and a real history of weightlifting, all other countries are absolutely the same – all athletes have the same errors and problems, such as jumping high, popping the bar with their hips out, and shrugging.
If there is one piece of advice on technique you would give those who want to improve their lifts, what would it be?
Feel like you are working your legs when you are lifting the bar for all exercises, because the bar is lifted using the legs, not the arms.
In your experience, what is the toughest part about the sport of weightlifting? What makes a successful weightlifter?
Seriously, all of it! I can say the most important thing in sports is the ability to tolerate failures and difficulties. And definitely the knowledge and experience of your coach.
Final words of advice?
The coach is very important, but the most important thing is to understand what you’re doing. Understanding allows you to teach others. You constantly need to think about what you’re doing and why, not just go to the gym to exercise. Why do you do each exercise? Don’t do it just because your coach said you have to, it’s a mistake, you must understand.