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‘Trooper’ setting his sights on paradarts crown

A Carterton chef is in Dunedin this weekend competing at the New Zealand ParaDarts Southern Series tournament and has his sights set on knocking the current number one ParaDarts upright player “off his perch.”

After several years playing darts socially, double amputee Matt “the Trooper” Mason was introduced to paradarts – darts for people in a wheelchair or living with a disability – 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.

Paradarts players play either from a wheelchair, in which case the centre bull of the dartboard is set at 1.37m, or from an upright position if they wear prosthetics. The board for upright players is set at the standard 1.73m.

Mason competed in the inaugural New Zealand competition last year against significant odds, Mason told the Times-Age.

“I was very, very ill at the time, and two weeks later, I lost my right leg.”

Nevertheless, he came third in the upright competition and is currently in second place following the withdrawal of fellow Wairarapa player Alan Drysdale from this year’s tournament because of illness.

“Depending on this weekend’s tournament, I very well may qualify for the New Zealand team to go to the Netherlands at the end of the year,” Mason said.

If that transpires, it will be the first time New Zealand takes a full team, which is comprised of two upright players and two wheelchair players.

Paradarts is “very new” in Aotearoa and has been championed by Dunedin player Rob “the Villan” Gillan.

“Rob’s done an amazing job to get New Zealand affiliated with World Paradarts, so the qualifying tournaments are world-ranking”, Mason said.

Mason is feeling relatively comfortable about his chances heading into this weekend’s competition but admits, “It all depends on how I play on the day”.

“This week I’ve been working hard. Rhoda [Mason’s wife] has been pushing me along – she’s very good.”

While he’s been throwing some good darts, a busy job as chef at Club Carterton has eaten into Mason’s energy reserves.

“It takes a while to settle in with a new leg – you basically have to learn how to throw again, pretty much. And I’ve been doing a lot of hours at work, which doesn’t help. Being a double amputee, I use 100 per cent more energy than a normal person to do the same task.

“It’s just catching up on me a bit, and when I’m tired, I don’t play well. Having a couple of days relaxing before the tournament starts will help,” he said.

The Dunedin competition will be followed in August by the North Island series, which will be hosted at Club Carterton.

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