No. 1 darts shot praises Gladstone talent
AUSTRALIAN number one-ranked darts player Raymond Smith says the sport is thriving in Gladstone.
Speaking with the Observer at the Gladstone Districts Darts Association Open held last weekend, Smith was impressed with some of the local players.
"The attitude from the local players has been impressive and Gladstone has got a few good players," Smith said.
"Jarrod Chauntler and Daniel Forrest have played really well."
Smith urged players to be confident in their abilities.
"Most of the reason why I wanted to come back here was to have a chat with the players," Smith said.
"My advice to them was to not be afraid to be out there and to relax and have fun."
It was just a few years ago that Smith began to realise that darts was his forte, despite having been introduced to the sport almost 20 years ago.
"My dad's team was short and I was invited to play," Smith said.
"That was in 1997, but I only really began to take it seriously in 2012 when I won the Australian Championships in Bendigo."
He continued to thrive on the national stage where he beat Western Australia's Brenton Lloyd and fellow Queenslander Stewart Leach a year earlier in 2015.
Smith also defeated Peter Machin in the World Darts Trophy.
Smith tells of a unique experience in his first time in Aussie colours.
"We played in the World Cup in Turkey and it was really hot and humid there," he said.
"It was the most rewarding time I had there because we finished in the top eight and beat Holland and Sweden and they are the leading countries, as was England, which only just beat us."
His tournament tour of duty continues.
"Next for me is Japan in October in the Asia Pacific Cup where the format is odd because points are individually based and about percentages and numbers," Smith said.
He will then compete at Winmau and Lakeside World Championships in England in December and January.