Mensur Suljovic’s career has been in decline for years.
A corona vaccination from 2021 is to blame for the fact that he was unable to train properly for 18 months. He wanted to give up several times. Now he meets Michael van Gerwen at the World Cup.
Mensur Suljovic begins his response with a charm offensive. You shouldn’t assume anything about it. He always does it like that. For many years. “My friend,” he said, adding after a short pause, “It’s hard to believe. But it’s really been like this for a year and a half now.”
A year and a half, 18 months. This is how long ago Mensur Suljovic received his first corona virus vaccine. And since then, as he describes it, he hasn’t been able to get back on his feet health-wise. While many people are suffering from Long Covid, he is extremely affected by the long-term effects of vaccination: “It cost me a lot of money.” And almost his existence as a darts professional.
After the past few months, few thought the 50-year-old would meet Michael van Gerwen in the third round of the World Championships in London on Wednesday night. He himself had thought of quitting. Because he no longer had motivation, anger at his physical condition dominated his days. “Several times, I was very close to giving up. I even told my wife that I was going to do it”, he says, giving the reasons for his decision: “What should I do if I can’t train?”
He is simply not a player who can live off his talent, he has always had to train more than the others. As for information on the extent, his figures fluctuate, sometimes the Serb, who is leaving for Austria, has given seven hours, sometimes eight, sometimes twelve, which he has spent on average on the set in recent months. But many, we can be sure, have always been there.
In any case, the decisive factor is that almost nothing has worked since his vaccination. He felt listless, tired and could barely get out of bed. His whole body ached. Sometimes he couldn’t stand on the board at all, other days it was over after a few minutes. There were only noticeable fluctuations in his pulse, in rare cases it was much too high, but often much too low. During one of his visits to the doctor, a 49 was measured.
Suljovic missed many tournaments and when he did, it was usually over early. “My corona vaccination has destroyed my career over the past year and a half,” he believes. In fact, his performances had little in common with the player who distinguished himself in the Premier League, won the Champions League in 2017 or reached the final of the European Darts Championship in 2016 and the World Matchplay in 2018. He threatened to drop out of the top 32, but only just managed to make it to Alexandra Palace in 30th place.
“It’s so tough. There are so many strong young players. New and better players join the circuit every year. But my best time is three years and more. The pressure on me has increased,” reports he, probably also referring to his expired supplier contract. He had asked for more money in view of younger colleagues who are under contract in the same stable. No agreement was reached.
He himself knows that his star has been falling for several years. But the vaccination simply made a turnaround impossible: “If I can’t train, I’m out of luck. I was vaccinated three times, but it did not improve. Not after the second and not the third either.” Until a few weeks ago.
Since then there have been small steps towards improvement, Suljovic said in an interview after his 3-0 win over Mike De Decker. He was able to train regularly again. Success at the World Cup is the result.
He has set new goals for himself, and when he talks about the future, you can tell he is happy with his ongoing recovery. He sees the match against van Gerwen as a bonus. But it shouldn’t really start until the new year: “Next year I’ll play more than ever, I won’t go on vacation, the vacation will be cancelled. I’ll play all the tournaments, I’ll take everything with me. Top 16 again will be incredibly difficult, but top 32 is my goal. I’m far from done, my friend.”
Darts World Cup, program on 28.12.
► 3rd round (from 1:45 p.m.):
Ryan Searle (ENG/16) – Jose de Sousa (POR/17)
Danny Noppert (NED/9) – Alan Soutar (SCO)
Gary Anderson (SCO/11) – Chris Dobey (ENG/22)
► from 8:15 p.m.:
Joe Cullen (ENG/13) – Damon Heta (AUS/20)
Michael van Gerwen (NED/3) – Mensur Suljovic (AUT/30)
Michael Smith (ENG/4) – Martin Schindler (D/29)
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