DARTS: Women to go for world title

Next year's World Professional Championship will be open to women for the first time in the competition's history. The news, announced by the British Darts Organisation yesterday, means that a leading woman player could be among the 32 finalists for the event, which will take place next January.

The leading eight women in the BDO international rankings will be invited to compete in the international play-offs in December.

"This decision recognises the strength of women's darts worldwide," the BDO general secretary, Olly Croft, said. "The decision to allow women is official recognition not only of women's darts - 25 per cent of all players in this country are female - but also of the higher standards that are being achieved by female players all over the world, especially in this country."

The top two women in the world are both British - Deta Hedman from Essex and Mandy Solomons of London - but it will be long odds against them getting through to the televised stage next year because of the strength in depth of the men's game.