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Warman athlete targets gold at World Darts Championship

Rianna December of Warman is ranked second in the American region, which includes Canada, the United States and the Caribbean

Sixteen-year-old Rianna December of Warman will be wearing Team Canada colours at the Winmau World Masters dart championship in Bridlington, England next week.

One of 21 Canadian competitors and the only one from Saskatchewan, Rianna December won an invitation to the prestigious international tournament based on her competitive performance over the past year. She’s currently ranked second in the Female Youth category in the Americas region, which includes Canada, the United States and the Caribbean.

“I’m excited to go,” said Rianna in an interview on Wednesday, September 19. “I’ve never been to England, and never competed in front of that many people in one place before. It’ll be a different experience.”

Rianna’s parents, Brad and Melanie December, are making the trip as well to the tournament, which runs October 3-7.

“We’re planning on doing the tourist thing, and spending a few days in London prior to the start of the tournament,” said Brad December. “We’re hoping Rianna will make it to the finals, but it’s a tough competition, because it’s single-knockout. There’s no round-robin, so if you lose once, you’re out.”

Rianna is one of three young women who’ll be wearing the red maple leaf as part of Team Canada’s junior contingent. The others are 2018 national junior female champion Hayley Crowley of New Brunswick and Emily Alford of Nova Scotia. One other competitor, Melanie Mitchell of Ontario, qualified as a junior, but will be competing in the adult category at the tournament because she is now over the junior age threshold.

Rianna began throwing darts competitively when she was 12, accompanying her father to league darts play at the ANAVETS club in Saskatoon. She won her first youth tournament in Saskatoon that year, and she’s gone on to win the provincial junior female championship three times and came in second provincially twice. Earlier this year she placed third in her class at the Canadian national championship in Drummondville, Quebec.

“My first national tournament, I was a little nervous,” said Rianna. “But not this last time. I treat it like any other match, and try and play my own game. It doesn’t matter if it’s quiet or if there’s lots of noise. I just focus and do my best not to let anything bother me.”

The key to success in darts is simply practice, she said.

“I practice or play pretty much every day,” she said. “I’m not involved in other sports, so other than school, this is where I spend my time. There aren’t a lot of other kids playing darts, I wish there were. But I really enjoy it and I find it challenging to play against adults. It helps my game.”

Rianna said she’ll be packing her own darts, a set of three thin, sleek, steel-shafted Accurate Stingers, to England for the tournament.

“I like the grip and the feel of this kind of dart,” she said. “The shaft is smaller and lighter than a regular dart. It took a lot of trial and error to find the right kind of dart for my style of throwing. Everybody’s different, and some people do better with a totally different kind of dart.

While there are several variations on the game, the standard for tournaments is 501, which involves starting at 501 points and deducting points until the first player to reach zero wins. Dart players typically aim for the middle ring – which triples the points – on the ‘20’ segment on the dartboard. The maximum number of points a player can earn on a single throw is 60, and on three  throws in succession is 180. A bull’s-eye in the outer ring of the centre of the dartboard is worth 25 points, and a double bull’s-eye in the exact centre is 50 points.

Brad December said there is a push by the Canadian and international dart federations to have darts become an Olympic sport. That’s an idea that appeals to his daughter.

“Absolutely, I’d love to go to the Olympics some day,” she said. “That would be really cool.”

WINMAU WORLD MASTERS DARTS CHAMPIONSHIP FACTS

The 2018 World Masters Championships are being held in Bridlington, United Kingdom – about halfway up England’s East Coast, east of the City of Leeds.

The British Darts Organisation (BDO) Winmau World Masters is the oldest established major darts tournament in the world and second only in importance to the BDO Lakeside World Professional Darts Championships.

It was first played in 1974, and the 2018 Masters will celebrate 45 consecutive years of Winmau World Masters darts.

The Men’s Masters features the top sixteen ranked players in the BDO Invitation tables – guaranteeing the top players being on stage as an attraction to both venue and TV audiences.

Players from seventy-two countries are invited, including Champions from over 300 national and international singles events worldwide.

An estimated 5,000 darts fans, players and officials are expected to attend the competition.

The World Masters is unique in being the only official Singles Championships in world darts that has five separate stand-alone World titles in one weekend: Men’s Masters

Women’s Masters, Boys Masters, Girls Masters. WDDA Masters.

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