Darts: Lambie delighted at success of opening Classic
MARKET Rasen-based arrows fan Julie Lambie said the inaugural Ladies Classic darts event she helped to organise has showcased the women's game in "all its glory."
The Lincolnshire County Darts Organisation secretary is already looking ahead to next year following the successful launch of the 'historic' first top ladies-only competition, held at Rileys in Lincoln.
Lambie, originally from Cleethorpes, organised the event after spearheading a petition that prevented live televised coverage of ladies matches being axed at January's Lakeside World Professional Dart Championship.
She formed the Ladies Darts Organisation and led efforts – which were backed by top professionals and world champions, including Phil Taylor and Bob Anderson – to raise funds for the Classic, which offered a £2,860 in prize-money as well as ranking points.
Top English pros subsequently flocked to Lincolnshire to step up to the oche, including world number one Deta Hedman – the first female to beat a male professional, in 2005.
But the inaugural Ladies Classic champion was unranked county player Donna Rainsley, from Kent.
She best Buxton's Lorraine Farlam – who reached last year's BDO World Championship quarter-finals – 4-3 in a thrilling singles showdown. Hedman finished fifth.
The pairs' honour went to Amanda Mallett, of Cambridgeshire, and Kerry Jobson, of Norfolk.
Lambie, 44, said: "After the petition in January, the support from all over the globe proved that something needed to be done for the ladies game.
"Following that success and the growth of the Facebook group, Ladies Darts, I decided to organise the first Ladies Classic.
"The atmosphere all day was truly outstanding. More than 100 supporters came to watch so the ladies had plenty of cheers from the crowd.
"Ninety-seven entered the singles and there were 46 pairs – for a ladies standalone competition. This really has made history."
The singles final reached an exciting climax – Rainsley and Farlam were tied at 3-3 with one leg to play.
Rainsley checked out on 22 to be crowned the champion.
"It was a fantastic game of darts and the support for both players was amazing," said Lambie.
"It was an honour to watch the ladies' game in all its glory."
In the pairs, Lisa Ashton and Zoe Jones beat 2012 world championship runner-up Hedman and partner Ann Chilton, in their semi-final.
But Mallett and Jobson proved to strong in the final, winning 5-3.
Lambie thanked all those who played a part in the Ladies Classic, particularly Hedman and Paul James.
She added: "These two wonderful people pushed, promoted, begged, borrowed and pestered companies and friends to support the Ladies Darts Organisation."
Next year's Ladies Classic is scheduled for August 31.