Darts: Going Dutch (and alcohol-free) at the BDO world championships

The once-boozy game is slimming down

There used to be an arguable recipe for success: booze, bellies and generous doses of bling. Andy "The Viking" Fordham weighed in at 31 stone when he won the British Darts Organisation's 2004 world championship, preparing for the biggest game of his life in time-honoured fashion – getting completely trollied.

These days it is a different story. As the BDO celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, training regimes have changed somewhat - and the Dutch players taking over darts are largely responsible.

Slim teenager Jimmy Hendriks is the latest star to emerge from the Netherlands youth academy, where champions of the future are put through their paces. The 18-year-old stunned the number two seed, Martin "Wolfie" Adams, beating the 56-year-old England captain 3-2 in the first round at the Lakeside Country Club in Frimley Green, Surrey, last week. The victory epitomised a changing of the guard, and Adams was magnanimous in defeat. "Hats off to Jimmy. He is one of a new breed of players who do things a bit differently."

Echoing the legendary Ajax football set-up that produced a succession of European Cup winners, the Dutch hope to bring on new stars. Coaches preach abstinence in training camps and warn of the bad habits often associated with darts. "In all youth competitions we organise alcohol is forbidden for young players and their mentors," said Paul Engelbertink, from the Netherlands Darts Bond.

This steady approach looks set to reap its rewards sooner or later. Michael Van Gerwen was only pipped in the final of the Professional Darts Corporation's version of the world championships by Phil Taylor earlier this month. And in the BDO event last night, Dutchman Wesley Harms almost hit a similar milestone before narrowly bowing out in the semi-finals to Tony O'Shea, a classic representative of old England.

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