Sky Sports presenter Dave Clark on living and working with Parkinson's disease
"It was the best thing I ever did, going public about it, because it was a weight off my shoulders. Keeping it a secret was hard"
Last Updated: 11/04/20 12:43pm
On World Parkinson's Day, Sky Sports presenter Dave Clark opens up about his experience of living with the degenerative disease, which affects an estimated one million people in the UK.
It was after presenting a Ricky Burns world title fight in 2013 that Sky Sports anchorman Dave Clark resolved to publicly announce he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
"I was trying to get my tie on, and my hands weren't working properly," Clark told Sky Sports News.
"I was trying to get my cufflinks on and I hadn't told anyone that I'd got Parkinson's.
"We were on air, the clock was ticking down and I could hear them saying 'Clarky, where's Clarky? Get on, you need to be doing the top link'.
"I managed to do it. I sort of got in front of the camera and nailed the top link, which I'm still very proud of to this day!
"But I was in a bad way at the end of it and I decided to go public."
More than two years earlier, Clark had been diagnosed with the disease at the same age as his father - 44.
"It really affected me badly when I was first diagnosed, because my dad had it and he took his own life because of Parkinson's," said Clark.
"So it had bad memories for me. I was 17 at the time.
"I had three months when I was in a really bad state. I kept it secret for two-and-a-half years because I thought people would see me as disabled and I would lose my job."
After overcoming those fears, Clark wrote an article for the Daily Mail revealing his battle with the disease and his intention to continue his career in broadcasting.
"I got thousands of messages of support - it was incredible," he said.
It was the best thing I ever did, going public about it, because it was a weight off my shoulders.
"It was the best thing I ever did, going public about it, because it was a weight off my shoulders. Keeping it a secret was hard."
Despite being warned he might only have two or three years left as a presenter, Clark remains the face of darts on Sky Sports nine years on from his diagnosis.
"I don't really see myself as an inspirational figure, I just carry on doing what I do. I love what I do," added Clark, who has raised nearly half a million pounds for Parkinson's charities in the years since his diagnosis.
"A few weeks ago, I was in front of 12,000 people in Liverpool doing the darts, so it's amazing that I've managed to carry on.
"I do the right things, I exercise, I take my meds on time, I don't let it get me down and stay positive. They're the main reasons I'm still going, I think."
Clark admits the day-to-day challenges of the disease can be a struggle but insists he has no intention of stepping down from his role.
"Some days I wake up and feel like I've been hit by a bus. I can't move properly and it takes a while for my meds to kick in," he said.
"It's worrying when you wake up in the morning not knowing how you're going to be that day. My right-hand side doesn't move that well when my meds are low, so my hand doesn't work particularly well - sometimes I can't write my name.
"Some days I struggle to walk - it's as bad as that. But those days are few and far between.
"I stay positive, keep fighting and hopefully I'll be alright for a good few years yet."