More Sports  > The Bottom 10  > Phil Taylor
January 5, 2010, 12:58 PM
Phil Taylor's 15th World Championship darts title must be one of sporting's major achievements. Two years ago, many who follow professional darts had written that his ability to dominate the sport had ended. Since that time, Taylor has gone 389-20 in the matches he has played. He has set new scoring records and raised the bar for all the players he has faced.

Although some doubt that professional darts is a sport, it is recognized by the English sporting authority, as well as those in 90 percent of the 67 countries that make up the world darts federation. Its popularity as a television sport in England, Holland, and other countries is remarkable. It is highly competitive, well organized (with increasing prize money) demanding intense focus, practice, coordination, stamina, fitness, and both physical and mental skills. The level of competition is such that at the end of a match lasting 13 sets, the final outcome may be decided by the width of wire, as it was in many of the games played in the championship. And tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of dollars may rest upon that throw.

In this years world's championships (finished on January 3), Simon Whitlock of Australia seemingly came out of nowhere to defeat both the world's third-ranked player (James Wade of England) and the second-seeded Raymond van Barneveld from Holland. Wade and other younger players defy the pub image. Barneveld hit a 9 dart leg - the perfect round that is rarely accomplished. But it was Taylor who set a new tournament record for his over-all average and continued to dominate the play.

Taylor's achievements have long been recognized in English sporting circles, and he has been for the short-list of the BBC "sportsperson of the year" -- an honor he might have won many times if not for a split in the darts circuit with the BBC broadcasting the rival British Darts Organization and Sky Sports televising the PDC circuit.

Although the best players come to Las Vegas for the yearly Desert Classic, the professional game in the United States has never found its niche (ESPN occasionally broadcasts edited versions of tournaments that were held months before, but its more like watching a highlight show of a baseball game rather than the real thing). Still, the kind of achievement Taylor has produced is remarkable in any kind of sport, anywhere in the world.


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