Comment & Analysis
World Cup of Darts 2021: Simon Whitlock and Damon Heta pay emotional tributes to Kyle Anderson
'The Original' tragically passed away last month at the age of 33; Whitlock and Heta were wearing shirts bearing Anderson's name, and they're aiming to use him as inspiration as they target a maiden World Cup crown
Last Updated: 09/09/21 11:49pm
Simon Whitlock and Damon Heta paid an emotional tribute to the late Kyle Anderson, following their emphatic whitewash win over Italy on the opening night at the World Cup of Darts.
Anderson - who represented Australia four times at the World Cup - tragically passed away last month at the age of 33, which left the world of darts in mourning.
'The Original' was a trailblazer. He was Australia's first Indigenous professional darts player, one of the most popular players on the circuit, and a world-class operator in his own right.
He won his first ranking title in August 2017, before famously lifting the Auckland Darts Masters as a regional qualifier just weeks later, and he also registered two televised nine-darters during his seven-year stint in the PDC.
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The 33-year-old reached the 2018 World Cup semi-finals alongside Whitlock, and his passing had devastating repercussions for Heta, who was a childhood friend of Anderson.
However, both Whitlock and Heta dealt with the occasion magnificently in front of a wonderful crowd in Jena, who sang Anderson's name throughout their contest against the Italians.
The Australian duo also delivered a fitting tribute; wearing shirts bearing Anderson's name before storming to a comprehensive 5-0 victory with a 92.78 average.
Heta admitted that Anderson's passing would leave 'a massive void', and over the last few weeks, 'The Heat' has organised an auction featuring memorabilia from the sport's biggest names, with all proceeds going to Anderson's young family.
"It means the world. We always dreamt one day that we would play the World Cup together, and I think this is the one where we played together," Heta told Sky Sports.
"He was very loveable. I think he was a brother to everyone. He treated everyone like he was family, within five minutes you're family. Not one person ever had a bad word about him."
Whitlock has also pledged to donate his first-round prize money to the Anderson family, and he was visibly emotional when paying tribute to his former team-mate.
"We're not just playing for Australia, we're playing for Kyle as well," Whitlock added.
"It means the world to me and Damo. We've got our hearts on our sleeves, and we've got Kyle's name on our sleeves. That is how much it means to us.
"We're Aussies. We have got some heart. We love our country, we love our sportspeople, it means the world to us to win matches, not just darts, it is everything."
'The Wizard' is one of the few remaining World Cup ever-presents, and he's still bidding to lift the coveted title for the first time, having been agonisingly close to glory in the infamous 2012 final.
The seventh seeds will take on Team USA's Danny Lauby and Chuck Puleo for a place in Sunday's quarter-finals, and they are aiming to use Anderson as an inspiration at the Sparkassen Arena this weekend.
"I think it is going to [inspire them]. They played really well there, they kept it all under wraps, and it was only after that there was a little outpouring there," reflected Sky Sports' Wayne Mardle.
"The world of darts is going to miss Kyle. His family will miss him greatly. Damon Heta has worked tirelessly trying to raise funds for the Anderson family.
"Like Simon said, it will be an inspiration to them. Simon is actually giving his first round prize money to the Anderson family as well, so there's a lot of things going on."
Stay with us for more World Cup of Darts action, live coverage continues from Jena on Friday September 10 - join us from 6pm on Sky Sports Arena.