Darts goes for gold

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The Independent Online
It's Tony Banks on the oche. The Minister for Sport is taking the first steps towards darts becoming an Olympic sport, writes Paul Routledge. He has asked the Sports Council to consider making "the arrows" an official sport. "I would like to see greater recognition of the enjoyment and recreation the game of darts brings to its millions of followers," he says.

If darts became an official game, players and trainers would be eligible for grants, but not for the acquisition of a beer belly. The money would go on promotion and "high-class training". The sports minister acted after professional dart-player Bobby George approached Bob Russell MP, the Liberal Democrat sports spokesman, about the lack of official recognition for the game.

Mr Russell said: "Recognition of darts as a sport would be a big boost for one of Britain's most popular leisure activities, with the prospect of qualifying for official financial support - and even the possibility of Olympic participation." He is now putting down an early day motion calling for a Commons debate on granting official status to darts. "He's hoping for 'a hundred and eighty' signatures," said a Lib-Dem aide.