Darts: Evergreen Paul Lim defies the odds at World Meet

Singapore darts player Paul Lim lining up for a throw at the World Cup of Darts in June, when Lim and his partner Harith Lim reached the quarter-finals and knocked out top seeds Peter Wright and Gary Anderson.
Singapore darts player Paul Lim lining up for a throw at the World Cup of Darts in June, when Lim and his partner Harith Lim reached the quarter-finals and knocked out top seeds Peter Wright and Gary Anderson.PHOTO: DARTSLIVE

Unseeded Singaporean, oldest player in field, stuns 2008 champion Webster in first round

Almost three decades after stealing the headlines at the World Darts Championship, 63-year-old Paul Lim is at it again.

The unseeded Singaporean, the oldest man in the 64-player main draw, rolled back the years with a stunning performance on Monday night (yesterday morning, Singapore time) to beat 2008 world champion Mark Webster 3-2 in the first round of the 2018 edition at Alexandra Palace in London.

"It's been an unbelievable night," Lim told YouTube darts channel Tungsten Tales. "This is the cream of all darts tournaments and to be part of it really is an honour.

"To play well with the crowd like that is a different story, I think they really played a part in my win.

"When I tap my heart on stage, I'm thanking the fans from my heart, it's not a sign I'm nervous.

"But I had to dig deep. It's tough, I'm running out of stamina."

Lim is famous for being the first man at a world championships to hit a perfect nine-dart finish in 1990 when he finished a career-high eighth.

Webster, 34, who was not even born when his Singaporean opponent made his championship debut in 1982, sportingly raised Lim's arm to salute his achievement after the 61-minute dramatic clash.

 
 

The 30th seed won the opening set before Lim, a consultant with soft-tip darts company Dartslive, levelled and took a 2-1 lead.

The Welsh southpaw fought back to equalise but Lim, an international qualifier, regained his composure with a clinical 80 check-out to send the crowd roaring in delight.

Earlier on Monday, he beat Hong Kong's Leung Kai Fan 2-0 in the preliminary round of the £1.8 million (S$3.3 million) tournament which ends on Jan 1. Lim has hit 10 180s, the maximum score for a round of three darts, and the most of any player in the current competition.

He next faces third seed Gary Anderson on Friday (3am on Saturday, Singapore time) in the last 32. The Scot won the world title in 2015 and 2016 and lost this year's final to Dutchman Michael van Gerwen.

The pair have some history as Lim had teamed up with compatriot Harith Lim to shock top seeds Anderson and Peter Wright 5-2 in the first round of the World Cup in June before being eliminated in the quarter-finals.

The Hong Kong-based Lim said: "I want to play well and enjoy. Hopefully, I'll beat him (Anderson) again. There's always a chance. What have I got to lose?

"I have a few days' rest and I'm going to see London, have some fish and chips before I get ready."

Lim picked up the game in pubs in the mid-1970s while working as a trainee under the head chef of Knightsbridge Hotel in England but stopped playing competitively between 2003 to 2012. He said the break had proved helpful.

He added: "I'm enjoying tournaments a lot more since last year.

"I'm not young anymore, sooner or later, I'll have to stop."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 20, 2017, with the headline 'Evergreen Lim defies the odds at World Meet'. Print Edition | Subscribe