Darts player John Rutherford says the secret to improving at the game is all about practice.
Rutherford has played darts since he was 18 years old when he used to play with his father back in Scotland. The 55-year-old said darts is huge across the sea with crowds as large as 8,000 coming to watch people play.
He later moved to Canada 36 years ago and improved his skills by playing locally and going to as many tournaments as possible. Over the years, he said he hasn’t been going to tournaments as often and that has held him back somewhat.
“You have to practice, you have to go to tournaments and you have to pay your dues,” Rutherford said. “You might come in last place but go to another one and see how you do and keep trying to improve that way. It took me years. I lost tournaments all over Canada but I kept going.”
He said he was glad that Thunder Bay was able to host the National Darts Championships for the first time at Delaney Area. The 10-day event, which started on June 8, had 176 players competing and some travelled as far as the Northwest Territories.
Rutherford said the real appeal of darts is having the opportunity to meet other people.
“For me it is the competitiveness and meeting everybody,” he said. “You meet old friends you haven’t seen for years. You meet friends from Newfoundland and Nova Scotia who you haven’t seen in 10 years. I’ve been talking to people and they love the arena, the set up and the city of Thunder Bay.”
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Christine Stark, president of Northern Ontario Darts Association, said the first national tournament in Thunder Bay was a success and hoped to have the event again next year.
She said once more people saw the size of the event they were able to wrangle up more advertising able to promote. Many residents underestimated how big of a draw a darts tournament, she said.
“A lot of people aren’t aware of darts in general” Stark said. “They see what they see on TV. We have that caliber of players here but unfortunately, the longstanding pub image of darts is still around but it is a very fierce and competitive sport.”
She added that next year they will host the provincial tournament.
Winners of the men’s doubles win $600 and the women’s $500.
The competition wrapps up around 4 p.m. Results will be availible at the end of the day.
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