ASH youngster James Wade has hit the bullseye by becoming the second youngest player ever to qualify for the prestigious Embassy World Darts Championships at Lakeside Country Club.
At just 18, Wade has achieved his sporting dream in double-quick time and will now lead mass local support to the finals, which start on Saturday January 4, 2003.
After his most successful season to date, which included victory in the Swiss Open, Wade made huge strides up the world rankings and finally achieved enough championship points to qualify for the Embassy with semi-final appearances in both the Norwegian and Danish Opens.
His 21 points took him to 15th in the rankings, and although Wade is faced with the prospect of locking horns with the world's top players, he isn't fazed one bit.
"I've beaten all eight seeds so I shouldn't fear anything," he said.
"I said all along that I wanted to make this my year, and it's come good so I'm delighted. Now it's a case of starting my practise in the build up to the event.
"I've got lots of friends and family coming down to watch me and cheer me on, and although I haven't been in that kind of atmosphere before for an Embassy, I think the added excitement and pressure will only help my game, not faze me.
This will be a completely open tournament. All the players are as good as each other, it's all about on the day."
Wade is one of 27 players to have already qualified for the Embassy with five more added to the list following this weekend's International Play-Off event held at The Spa, Bridlington.
Champion Tony David makes history by becoming the first ever Australian to be seeded one for the Embassy, ahead of two-time winner Raymond Barneveld at No.2 and Mervyn King at three.
England captain Martin Adams — last year's semi-finalist — is seeded at four, ahead of Andy ‘Viking' Fordham at five and 2001 winner John Walton at eight. Tony Eccles and Tony O'Shea are six and seven respectively.
The other 19 qualifiers are: Wade (Eng); Gary Anderson (Sco), Matt Clark (Eng), Erik Clarys (Bel), Steve Coote (Eng), Richie Davies (Wal), Vincent Van Der Voort (Ned), Albertino Essers (Ned), Darryl Fitton (Eng), Shaun Greatbatch (Eng), Ted Hankey (Eng), Peter Hunt (NZ), Peter Johnstone (Sco), Jarkko Komula (Fin), Stefan Nagy (Swe), Colin Monk (Eng), Gary Robson (Eng), Co Stompe (Ned) and Bob Taylor (Sco).
Wade takes his place in the Winmau World Masters this weekend, which have been taken away from Lakeside this year and moved to Bridlington.
But there's no easy ride for him — he's been drawn in arguably the toughest group which includes last week's Paddy Power World Grand Prix runner-up John Part, Peter Manley, Steve Beaton and USA's number one Steve Brown.
The event will be shown live on both BBC Grandstand and Sunday Grandstand.