World champion Rob Cross says a major health scare made him re-evaluate his priorities, but he is now back in shape and determined to land the World Matchplay title, writes Raz Mirza.

Cross took the world by storm at Alexandra Palace where he etched his name into darting folklore by beating the legendary Phil Taylor in the final to claim the £400,000 top prize.

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He soon embarked on his first Premier League season as well as making his debut in the World Cup of Darts and World Series.

But the demanding schedule seemed to take its toll on Cross, who ballooned up to 18 stone as well as suffering from severe sternum pains.

The health scare and weight gain was a signal for the Hastings ace to start a diet with the help of Dr Stefaan Vossen from Core Clinics.

“I’m on a protein diet and a bit more exercise,” Cross told Sky Sports at the World Matchplay in Blackpool. “I am also eating sensibly now because it’s very easy to get set in your ways and carry on.

“A couple of months ago I was at the biggest weight that I’ve ever been. I’ve never been a big person. I was about 14 stone when I was working, but when you go up to 18 stone then you know you’ve got issues.

“I’m down to 16 stone and I have to admits that I do feel good about myself. When you lose that weight you feel better about yourself. It also gives you the extra energy levels.

“I didn’t really notice the weight issue until the demand of the Premier League really. When you’re away six days a week and you’re eating massive portions – I was greedy – I won’t butter it up, and I used to sleep more.”

World Matchplay Darts – Wednesday July 25 (7pm)

Simon Whitlock v James Wade
Mensur Suljovic v Ian White
Rob Cross v Darren Webster
Peter Wright v Kim Huybrechts

At the age of 27, Cross was determined to go back to the lifestyle he had while he was working as an electrician. His daily routine consisted of getting up early, spending time with his young family, and staying focused as a professional.

“I have to go back to that work ethic of getting up early and structuring my day so that it works for me,” he said.

“I’ve had chiropractor Dr Vossen help me man manage everything and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

“It’s about the future. How long do I want to last? How long do I want to try and be at the top of my game?

“My chest problem was a major worry because it was exactly the same symptoms as a heart attack. I’m 27 and shouldn’t be getting that really.

“It was lifestyle, which I had to change. If I don’t change that then I don’t last as a professional and I don’t do my job for my family and also I have things which I would still like to achieve in the game. I need to stay disciplined.”

Cross admits he let himself slip, but is now on the road to recovery and looking to land another major title at the World Matchplay this week where he takes on Darren Webster for a place in the quarter-finals on Wednesday – live on Sky Sports.

“What do you want? It’s a massive question in life and I wanted to win the world championship and provide for my family. I let myself slip because I had goals which I wanted to achieve but forgot about myself,” Cross added.

“I want to look after myself and have a long-lasting career if I can. I want it in my hands and choose when I want to stop playing. I also want to be around for my kids to watch them grow up.”

Join us for further coverage of the World Matchplay on Wednesday, July 25 at 7pm on Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Main Event. The darts will run through to the final on Sunday, July 29.

Stick with us for news, views and interviews and expert analysis. Get all the latest at www.skysports.com/darts and join in the conversation @SkySportsDarts – don’t forget to use #LoveTheDarts.

Sourse: skysports.com

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