A Russian darts player who now calls Ellesmere Port home is taking the women’s game by storm. As Anastasia Dobromyslova basks in the glory of winning her third women’s world title, DAVID TRIGGS profiles the 28-year-old star

AN after-school pastime turned into a life-changing adventure for Anastasia Dobromyslova.

Not many Russian women play darts, but Anastasia quickly became hooked on the sport.

“It happened in an after-school club in Russia,” she recalled. “I was about 11. None of my family ever played. They were like ‘darts? Why does a girl want to play darts?’ But I said ‘I want to play darts’.

“Someone told me I would be good one day if I kept going and kept practising... and here we are!”

That ‘someone’ turned out to be right.

Anastasia won the third women’s world title of her career at the start of this year and looks well set to dominate her sport for many years to come. A steely will to win – coupled with hours and hours of practice – make Anastasia a formidable opponent to face on the oche.

“I just try to concentrate and think ‘it’s me and the board, me and the board, me and board, three darts, no-one exists,” said the 28-year-old. “I practise a lot. I never miss it at Christmas, new year or anything.”

Anastasia was born and raised in Tver, a city to the north of Moscow. After discovering her love of darts at school, her career soon began to take off. She won the Russian national championship seven times and also claimed the 2001 Girls’ World Masters title and won the WDF Europe Youth Cup singles in 2001 and 2002.

She turned professional in 2004 and met her future husband – Ellesmere Port darts player Tony Martin – at a tournament in Holland the following year. The couple married in 2008 and now live together in Tony’s home town. Anastasia even turns out regularly for the Cheshire team playing in the Premier Division of the British Inter-County Championship.

A total of three British Darts Organisation (BDO) women’s world titles now rest on the family mantle piece after Anastasia’s latest Lakeside triumph.

After accounting for Lorraine Farlam (2-0) in the quarter-finals and old rival Trina Gulliver (2-1) in the semis, she overcame Bolton’s Lisa Ashton 2-1 in the final.

Anastasia’s first world title success came five years ago when she shocked the darts world by ending Gulliver’s run of seven straight world title wins, aged only 23.

Later that year, she quit the BDO and signed up for the rival Professional Darts Corporation (PDC). She went from competing in female-only events to mixing it with the men – and achieved one of the most famous results in darts history in 2009.

Her victory over Dutchman Vincent van der Voort at the PartyPoker.com Grand Slam of Darts made her only the second woman to beat a man in a televised competition, after Deta Hedman in the 2005 UK Open.

After two years on the PDC circuit, facing the likes of Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor, Anastasia opted to return to the BDO.

She got her hands on her second women’s BDO world title last year, beating Oxfordshire’s Deta Hedman in the final. Title number three arrived less than a fortnight ago when Anastasia retained her crown.

She is a proud ambassador for women’s darts and has not been afraid to criticise the media – including the BBC – for not giving it the coverage she feels it deserves.

She has welcomed news that next year’s women’s competition at Lakeside will expand to include 16 players instead of eight.

“It’s good and there’s a big opportunity for newcomers,” she said. “Hopefully it will be more boys and girls coming, especially girls. We need some fresh blood.”