Troy Hanlon hopes to use his win at the international darts championship win last month in Belize as a springboard to turning pro next year.
The 25-year-old McDonald’s manager from St. Mary’s claimed the gold medal in men’s singles with a 4-0 victory over fellow countryman Chris Steiger of Nova Scotia at the America’s Cup late last month, is making an impact for himself in Canadian darts community and beyond our shores.
In winning the title, Hanlon also picked up awards for the lowest number of darts in a game, 11 and the men’s high finish, 150 in the competition that also included athletes from the United States, Brazil, as well as Caribbean islands, Barbados, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, and Trinidad and Tobago along with the host country.
Hanlon, who will compete in the world masters tournament Hull, England in October, is also looking at competing in a world-ranking event in France before the year is out.
He also hopes to qualify for the world championships next year in St. John’s which will he will do by either winning the national championship or by finishing in the top 16 ranked players in the country.
Hanlon, who won the national championship in 2011, is currently ranked 13th by the National Darts Federation of Canada.
He also added to his growing resume in June when he combined with Brent Colombe of Harbour Breton to capture the men’s doubles title in Thunder Bay Ont. Hanlon and Colombe defeated an Ontario team 3-1 in the final, with Hanlon recording all three finishes.
Competing in a sport where accuracy is often measure in millimetres when it comes a win or missing the target, Hanlon said it’s all about practice which is what he does for about three hours a day every day.
Hanlon picked up darts as a 14 year old but really didn’t start taking the game seriously until he was 17 or 18 and playing in his local league.
He remembers seeing Canadian professional John (Darth Maple) Part on television and he became one of his heroes along with England’s Phil Taylor, recognized as the best darts player in the world.
Hanlon eventually developed his own style of play but admits, “If there’s one thing I could improve on it’s my finishing,” before adding, he has no trouble scoring and “I have a shot at pretty much any double on the board.”
He said the other thing he has to work on is the first knockout round in tournament which he says he sometimes has a problem with.
“If I can get past the first round, I usually make it to the top four, but it’s definitely a hurdle for me.”
And while there’s a definite mental aspect to the sport, especially in weekend tournaments, he says conditioning also plays a factor.
“Endurance has a lot to do with it,” said Hanlon. “If you are playing three days of darts and on your feet 12 hours a day, I can tell you that’s tougher than playing a weekend ball hockey tournament.”
Turning pro, of course, means raising money to compete in the major tournaments and Hanlon hopes to kick start that journey shortly.
He believes the win in Belize will, hopefully, help him attract a sponsor and there’s $60,000 first-place prize money up for grabs at the world masters in Hull, England in October. He’s also thinking about going to Europe a week earlier to participate in ranked tournament in France.