Young Leo, 12, throws first maximum after being inspired by watching darts professional Simon Whitlock in action at Waterlooville

A 12-year-old Portsmouth schoolboy, inspired by watching professional Simon Whitlock’s nine-dart finish, this week threw his first maximum.

Wednesday, 6th October 2021, 10:42 am
Leo Howard with World No 19 Simon Whitlock

Leo Howard achieved the feat while taking part in the regular Portsmouth Darts Academy (PDA) training session held at The Gaiety Bar on South Parade Pier.

The PDA is part of the national Junior Darts Corporation (JDC) and is open to children aged 6-17 from the city region.

In recent weeks, Leo, who attends Springfield School, has practised with World No 19 Whitlock, who plays every Wednesday in the Portsmouth Darts League at the Phoenix in Waterlooville.

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Leo Howard, 12, this week threw his first 180.

Leo’s dad, Frankie, also plays at the Phoenix and last week the youngster watched on as Whitlock produced a nine-dart finish on his way to eventual victory.

‘Leo came back after watching that saying ‘I’ve got to get that 180! He’s been practicing, practicing, practicing like crazy.

‘He wanted to hit that 180 so much. He’s been close a few times - he hit treble 20, treble 20, treble 5 just before his 180.’

Leo has been attending the PDA sessions on a Monday evening for around two years. Weekly inter-club league matches are held and there are competitions against other clubs who are part of the JDC organisation.

Portsmouth are hoping to host such an event in December, following on from a competition in Selsey being cancelled.

The younger members of the PDA train on boards that are lower in height than a standard darts board, and they stand nearer the board. Leo, though, scored his maximum on a full height board standing the normal adult distance back.

The PDA are looking for companies to sponsor boards. Further details on the club from [email protected]

Leo, meanwhile, almost got to see his dad facing Whitlock in the final of the latest Portsmouth Darts League event in Waterlooville.

Frankie Howard was beaten by Sam Head in the last four, with Head subsequently beaten in the final by 2012 European champion Whitlock.

The Australian, nicknamed The Wizard, had defeated Corrine Hammond in his semi-final tie. He also threw 13 180s during the course of the evening.

Mason Whitlock - Simon’s son - produced a 153 checkout while Rob Collins had an 11-dart leg.

Damon Trueman won the Plate competition, beating Mike Symes in the final.