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How Sky Sports Darts Presenter Dave Clark Deals With Parkinson's Makes Him An Inspiration

How Sky Sports Darts Presenter Dave Clark Deals With Parkinson's Makes Him An Inspiration

"There were a couple of occasions at the World Championship when I jammed my hand down the side of the chair because it was shaking," revealed Sky Sports darts presenter Dave Clark.

Clark has lived with Parkinson's Disease since he was diagnosed with the condition in 2011. Doctors said his television career would be over within two or three years. Six years on, he was still there on set at Alexandra Palace on New Year's Day as Rob Cross defeated Phil Taylor in the final.

"Sometimes, they wouldn't cut to me as much on camera and stay on my guests a bit longer because I was having a bad day," Clark told Joe Molloy on Newstalk's Off The Ball on Wednesday night.

"That only happened once during the World Championship because my meds were running low and I didn't want to take any more because I only get so many hits of the meds."

After hiding his illness for the first couple of years following its diagnosis, Clark went public. He says it's the best thing he's ever done.

When it came out that I have Parkinson's, I'd had it for two-and-a-half years and I was trying to hide it on air. I was doing a World Championship boxing match and trying to do my tie. The on-air clock was ticking away and I was shaking away, panicking trying to get my cufflinks on and I thought, 'This is ridiculous, I've just got to tell everybody.'

I came out and went public, it was the best thing I've ever done. The amount of warmth and respect I've had since has been remarkable.

The 49-year-old has his struggles. Though, he tries to keep to crap days to a minimum. He has two young sons aged 12 and 15. He wants to stay strong for them.

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"I don't see it as a major challenge - I just get on with it. I don't grieve about my losses. I'm not sad about what I'm going through, I try to make a difference," he says.

A little kid came up to me looking for my autograph two hours before I went on air. I'm not ready to sign an autograph then because my hand doesn't move very well because I haven't had my drugs. I couldn't sign his shirt, which I was gutted about. I explained to his mother what the problem was and I signed it later.

Clark was in Belfast last year doing the Premier League Darts. A fan approached him with a story he remembers fondly.

"A guy just came over to me and said, 'Dave, I just want to thank you, you saved my uncle.' I said, 'What do you mean?' He said he was diagnosed with Parkinson's. He'd given up, he was sitting on the sofa all day and he'd given up on life; the sparkle had gone out of his life.

"He said that he read my story, got his act together and went out walking every day. It changed his life.

His battle with Parkinson's is not his first encounter with the illness: his father also suffered from the condition.

My dad had it and took his own life when I was 17. He was depressed and hid himself away; didn't tell anybody, didn't tell me, didn't tell the family. An absolute nightmare.

Everything my dad did, I'm doing differently. That's my ethos. Go public, make a difference.

A difference Clark has certainly made: he's raised over £500,000 for Parkinson's charities. The darts world has aided his cause. Gary Anderson recently gave him £1,000. Snakebite Wright gave him a shirt to auction.

Clark doesn't know if he'll be back at Alexandra Palace in December. Even if he's not, one thing is for certain - he'll still be making a difference somewhere.

"Attack the day because you're doing yourself no favours sitting on your backside."

See Also: Phil Taylor Accused Of 'Dirty Darts' On Way To World Championship Final

PJ Browne
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