Darts star Ted Hankey from Telford faces a complete overhaul of his lifestyle as he bids to recover from a stroke suffered during a top tournament, his manager said this afternoon.
As well as a small stroke, 44-year-old Hankey was found to be suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol following tests done after he was taken ill during the PDC Grand Slam of Darts at Wolverhampton Civic Hall.
His manager David Stevenson he had suffered a transient ischaemic attack, also known as a mini stroke during the match last Tuesday. He said: “I spoke to him yesterday and he’s a little bit worn out, tired and lethargic all the time.
“His cholesterol is through the roof, his blood pressure is through the roof and he’s diabetic.
“He’s got to change his lifestyle completely. He’s never worried about diet and stuff like that. Like most of us in our 40s he’s got a bit of a pot belly but that’s all.
“He’s got to rest for six to eight weeks, so he will miss the world championships and probably the premier league.
“His wife has just had a baby, so he’s up all hours and still trying to practise, and it must all come to a head at some point.
“He complained when he arrived on Tuesday that he wasn’t feeling too good. He spoke to the players’ marshal and said ‘I am not feeling too clever’.
“We assumed it was flu coming on. It was obviously more than that. He went to the doctor next day and he immediately sent him to hospital. They did a few tests and he went back the next day for a CT scan.
“The stroke nurse came and got him from the room where he had the scan and said to him: ‘I’m very sorry to inform you that you have had a stroke’. The left hand side of his face was like molten plastic.”
Mr Stevenson said Hankey would now have to pay close attention to his diet and lifestyle.
He said: “If he still wants to be a professional darts player we are going to have to try to control it. Raymond van Barneveld was diagnosed diabetic in the summer and has had a massive change of lifestyle, but he still drinks.
“We will have to manage it, make sure he eats properly and gets plenty of rest.
“We have cancelled all his shows and exhibitions. We will start again in the new year and see what happens.
“He will miss the two biggest events in the calendar but his health is more important.”
Mr Stevenson has also hit back at people who took to social networks after the game to accuse Hankey of being drunk and not trying to win the game.
He has not ruled out legal action but said they would wait until Hankey was better before making a decision. He said: “We haven’t discussed it fully yet. Some of the remarks that were made against Ted were very derogatory and massively defamatory of his character. .”
TV commentators said: “There is quite clearly an issue here. Hankey has problems here , I am not sure he can carry on.”
Mr Stevenson said : “Anybody who knows Ted and knows darts could see he was in distress and the ref should have stopped the game.”
Dave Allen, media manager for tournament organisers the Professional Darts Corporation, said the referee twice offered Hankey the chance to concede but he said he was OK to carry on. Mr Allen wished him a speedy recovery.
Mr Stevenson pointed to the lifestyle of professional darts players as part of the reason for health problems among players.
He said: “All the darts players drink, there is no hiding that.”
After news of his stroke was made public, celebrities and fans rushed to wish Hankey well. Former world champion John Lowe tweeted: “It’s been reported Ted Hankey suffered a stroke on stage, I am sure we all wish him well.”
Meanwhile, TV presenter Helen Chamberlain said: “I hope @TedHankeyDarts makes a speedy recovery. Lots of love to you & the bats Ted. X” and PDC player Kevin Painter said: “Here’s wishing Ted Hankey a speedy recovery. Get well soon pal.”
Hankey, known as The Count to darts fans, was the BDO world champion in 2000 and 2009 and World Masters semi-finalist in 1997, 2003 and 2004.
He became a father again just last month when his wife Sarah gave birth to their third child Aaron.