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‘Trooper’ targets double trouble

Carterton chef Matt “the Trooper” Mason fulfilled his ambition to be ranked New Zealand’s number one upright paradarts player, knocking rival Paul Stevenson “off his perch” at the South Island ParaDarts Series tournament in Dunedin last weekend.

Victory for the double-amputee came in the upright [or standing] competition for players who wear prosthetics, and Dunedin player Rob Gillan came first in the wheelchair competition.

Mason’s match against Stevenson – his “must-win” game – came down to the wire.

At two games apiece heading into the deciding game, both players were vying for the double – in Mason’s case, double 16.

“Fortunately, I got the double first,” Mason said.

Finding the double didn’t come all that easily in his match against wheelchair paradarts champ Gillan.

“I just couldn’t find the double eight,” Mason said. “I missed that about eight times, and he beat me three-two.”

With the number one ranking under his belt, Mason has his sights firmly set on the New Zealand Paradart’s North Island Series, which will be hosted at Club Carterton, where he is also the chef.

With most of the paradarts players located in the North Island, Mason is hopeful for a good turnout for the tournament, which takes place in August.

“We’re expecting 12 to 14 players in Carterton. There’s a couple of paradarts players up here who haven’t had a competition yet because they struggle financially to get down to the South Island,” Mason said.

“It’s a big expense, especially for wheelchair players, to travel there, find wheelchair-accessible accommodation, and get from the accommodation to the venue. It can be quite a mission.”

Mason’s top spot ranking has also earned him a place in the national team, which will travel to the Netherlands for the World Paradarts Cup in November.

“For a full team, you need a minimum of two chair players and two upright players,” Mason explained.

“New Zealand’s never put a team into the World Cup before. In the past, we’ve only had two chair players travelling, and they get put in the Rest of the World team.”

After playing darts socially for several years, double amputee Mason was introduced to paradarts about three years ago, shortly after he lost his first leg as a result of circulation issues related to Type 1 diabetes, a condition he has lived with for the last 42 years.

He competed in the inaugural New Zealand competition last year and placed third in the upright category, despite being “very, very ill at the time”, he previously told the Times-Age. “Two weeks later, I lost my right leg.”

For paradart competitors in wheelchairs, the centre bull of the dartboard is set at 1.37m, while for players the board is set at the standard 1.73m.

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