Young sensation Bennett celebrates (credit:Taylor Lanning)
Teenage sensation Leighton Bennett admits qualifying for the BDO World Championship means he has to cancel Christmas.
The 13-year-old has made history by becoming the youngest-ever player to reach a senior World Championship at the O2 Indigo in London in January.
The Lincoln starlet has enjoyed a sensational year on the junior circuit but has also produced consistent performances against the BDO’s big boys to make the cut-off for January’s show-piece.
Bennett qualified as the number 18 in the BDO rankings and admitted: “I must be the only 13-year-old not to be thinking of Christmas Day!
“To be honest, I was over the moon to qualify and then realised that Christmas is now cancelled, but I don’t really care. The biggest present I could have ever got is reaching the World Championships, I never dreamed it would happen so quickly.
“The hard work really starts now, but when I get to late December it will be flat-out practice and preparation for the tournament.
“It’s so exciting to be part of a new era at the BDO, it’s the first time at the Indigo at The O2 so that will be very cool.”
Bennett has already rocked the darting world by beating Phil Taylor in the SAP Darts Slam in Frankfurt earlier this year.
He also won six out of ten events in the Junior Darts Corporation season, comfortably finishing top of the Order of Merit.
But he was quick to dismiss any talk of success at the O2 in January, adding: “People have been telling me I could make history by winning the World Youth Championship and then senior World Championship in successive years.
“That isn’t going to happen. I’m going there for experience and I’m very lucky to have got this opportunity.
“I’ve just got to work really hard now. I’ve got so much school work to catch up on as well as practice, I have to be really disciplined to do both.
“I don’t get any time to hang out with my friends or play Xbox or Playstation, in fact I don’t even own anything like that.
“The biggest fun I have is playing darts, I’m lucky that I love to practice and keep challenging myself to improve.
“I’ve got amazing people around me like SAP who helped me get home tutoring, that helps me travel to events and balance that with school stuff.”
Bennett could also be handed a place in the Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton next month in the same draw as the likes of Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson.
Professional Darts Corporation Chairman Barry Hearn and legend Taylor have both called for the BDO to include ‘Boom Boom’ among their contingent, with the eight representatives due to be confirmed in the coming weeks.
Bennett added: “I try and take it all in my stride. If I get given a place that will also be amazing experience and a good test to my ability before the Worlds.
“I just think right now it’s important for me to get used to the preparation for a big tournament. I really enjoy it and I’m buzzing for what’s ahead.”
Bennett’s mentor – 2018 World Champion Rob Cross – admits that he would hate to draw the talented kid in a major event.
Cross said: “I would love to see Leighton in the Slam, but I don’t want to draw him in my group!
“I can absolutely guarantee you that no one will want to draw him in the BDO World Championships, what an amazing story he is. He just doesn’t fear anyone.”