Steve Beaton says Phil Taylor's constant hunger for success and longevity at the top level has encouraged him to continue competing on the sport's biggest stages.
Beaton, 52, is appearing in the World Championship for a 26th consecutive year, with only 16-time winner Taylor enjoying further longevity in the sport’s blue-riband event.
Beaton, who is still ranked within the world’s top 32, marked his latest campaign at the Ally Pally with a 3-1 victory over Devon Peterson on the opening night – setting up a potential showdown with seven-time major winner James Wade in the second round.
The 1996 Lakeside champion is a firm believer that age is no more than a number and has to look no further for inspiration than ‘The Power’, who is fourth on the Order of Merit and claimed the latest of his world crowns at the same age.
“Obviously, the older you get, the less consistent you’re going to be. I know I can play well, it’s just about performing up there,” said Beaton.
“Phil’s proved a point over the years and I never write him off.
“I’m a few years behind Phil and he gives me that drive.
“This is my 26th World Championship and he’s the only one that’s played in more, so I think I’ll keep going – if he can do it, I can do it.”
The Bronzed Adonis rolled back the years with a run to the quarter-finals of the World Matchplay in July, where he beat the likes of Jelle Klaasen and Michael Smith before narrowly losing 16-13 to reigning world champion Gary Anderson.
His performance at the Blackpool Winter Gardens underlined his sustained burning desire for the sport he first started playing 44 years ago.
While admitting to knowing when the time will be right to hang up his darts, Beaton intends to fully embrace what he feels is a very privileged position to be in.
“How many people would love to go on that stage and play that game?!” he said. “It’s absolutely brilliant – the buzz, the atmosphere – and, if you’re getting paid for it, what’s better?
“If I lost the love of the game then I would pack up. Once I drop out of the top 32 and my standard drops that far that I can’t compete, I’d think it was time.
“Until then, with the brilliant crowds, I can’t let them down, can I?”