By Mick Jensen
Beekeper Craig Ross – aiming for the top in world darts.Fairton beekeeper Craig Ross has dusted off his darts and will shortly step up to the oche (throw line) to play at the big money World Darts Championships in London.
The 48-year-old was a runner up at a playoff tournament for New Zealand’s best 16 players in July and was given the call-up just a couple of weeks ago up, after playoff winner, Tahuna Irwin, was unable to travel to England.
After discussing the possibility of representing his country for the first time on world darts’ biggest stage with wife Anna, he made the call to go and left with his wife and two daughters, Lucy and Hayley, on Tuesday.
Ironically, Craig had “to dust off” his darts, after recently putting them away for another season.
2018 has been a good playing year for the dart-throwing apiarist.
He won the Canterbury men’s singles in July and also made two semi finals at the Auckland Masters.
He will take on Spanish darts player Toni Alcinas in the best of five set match in the first round draw of the World Darts Championships, which starts on December 13.
He is a rank outsider in the tournament, but says he is determined “to enjoy the whole experience”.
It was an early Christmas present, he said.
“I am both excited and nervous and there was no way I could have passed up this opportunity.
“I’ve been playing darts as a hobby since 1991 and to be selected now to play at the world championships, shows that a ‘garage player’ can progress in the game.”
He said he would need to “average 90 plus” with his arrows and to be on his best game to stand any chance of progressing.
Craig has represented the South Island at darts and plays out of the Hornby Working Men’s Club.
The World Darts Championships features 96 top players and includes 34 Englishmen, 13 from the Netherlands, five Australians and players from 21 other countries.
It will also feature New Zealander Cody Harris, who qualified by winning the PDC Challenge Tour.
Even if Craig Ross does not make it through round one, he will still enjoy a payday of GBP7,500.
Making it to round two will double his prizemoney, while the tournament’s winner will take home an impressive GBP500,000.
Mr Ross will receive some financial help with his trip and has received sponsorship from his wife’s employer, Spraymarks, and Timaru Cosmopolitan Club.
His 21gm tungsten darts are sponsored by Shot! and he will wear a New Zealand playing jersey.