The darts players at Luke Littler’s academy commend their unfortunate but admirable hero.

While devastated by his narrow loss to Luke Humphries, the fellow arrowsmiths at St Helens Academy praised the contributions that the 16-year-old has made to the sport.

As Luke Littler competed at the Alexandra Palace in London for the world championship, the young darts players from St Helens Darts Academy, where he started his sporting career at the age of nine, eagerly supported him.

With bated breath, they watched their former clubmate and new idol compete for the biggest title in darts. At just 16 years old, he became the youngest player ever to reach the final of the World Darts Championships.

Although Littler fell short of winning the trophy, the supporters’ agony was apparent, but their pride in their local darts sensation remained unwavering.

“I’m extremely proud of him. It’s a tremendous accomplishment for someone who is only 16 and comes from a small town like ours,” said 10-year-old Jack Callaghan, who, like many others in the room, proudly wore a darts shirt with Littler’s name.

“We are still incredibly proud of him because of how far he advanced in the tournament. He’s only 16 and can’t win everything,” added 11-year-old Jack Evans. “It’s hard to wrap your head around the fact that he is just five years older than me.”

Even before his astonishing rise to global fame, Littler was already a hero in the area. One of the dartboards in the Sidac social club, home to St Helens Darts Academy for over a decade, is named after him, attracting 80 young people aged seven to 19 who attend the club.

Committee member Alison Atkinson expressed, “It’s truly phenomenal. He has done so much for the world of darts. The number of children here who look up to him is fantastic. You can see the increase in interest in darts from the TV viewing figures. It keeps these children off the streets, entertains them, and even helps with their mathematical abilities. I believe it’s going to explode.”

Undoubtedly, Littler possesses an exceptional talent for the sport. For the young spectators who watched him attentively on the big screen that Wednesday night, he proved that age is no barrier and anything is possible.

Darts, no longer limited to middle-aged men in pubs, is gaining popularity among the younger generation, largely due to Littler’s remarkable performance.

“The number of young players coming to the academy is continuously increasing because they want to be like him,” said Evans, adding, “I really hope that will be me someday.”

Littler has captivated the nation with not only his extraordinary talent, but also his down-to-earth personality and love for fast food – he enjoys celebrating a victory with a kebab. “I don’t know what else he eats because he never loses,” joked Karl Holden, co-founder of the St Helens Darts Academy.

Holden continued, “He constantly surprises us and exceeds our expectations. I imagine he’s a major concern for some of the top PDC players. However, it’s a lot of pressure. When playing at the bar with my friends, I sometimes miss my doubles, but he was playing for half a million.”

Matthew Pearson, one of the older academy members at 23 years old, commented, “He has always been the calm, cool, collected person who competes in front of a dartboard. It’s as if he doesn’t feel any pressure, but we all know deep down he must.”

“Regardless of what happened tonight, he’s still a champion in our eyes. Making it to the final is an achievement that no one can take away from him,” Pearson added.

Holden has received numerous messages from parents seeking to enroll their children in the academy in recent days, with many hoping to replicate even a fraction of Littler’s success.

“Luke’s presence in the final has generated a tremendous amount of publicity. Everyone is now looking at us, wondering what we did and why he’s such a talented player,” Holden said. “But 95% of it is because of him. He possesses something that nobody else has.”

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