First player to hit a nine-darter on live TV passes away aged 52

Shaun Greatbatch - the man who made darts history - has passed away at the age of 52.

Greatbatch has his place in darts history after becoming the first player to hit a nine-dart finish live on TV in the final of the 2002 Dutch Open.

The Suffolk thrower - who started his career with the BDO in 1996 - hit T20, T15 and D18 with his final three darts during the third leg of the second set against Steve Coote.

Greatbatch went on to win the match and the tournament. He also won the Swedish Open, Denmark Open and England National Championship in his career.

He made his Lakeside debut in 2001 and his best performance was the semi-finals in 2006. The performance saw him qualify for the Grand Slam of Darts although he finished third in a group which included Jelle Klaasen, Kevin McDine and Peter Manley.

Greatbatch was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2008 although he continued playing darts and competed in the 2009 BDO World Championship.

He was defeated in the opening round by John Walton and left the stage to a guard of honour.

Legends of the sport have been paying their tributes to Greatbach.

Bobby George said: "Devastated to hear that Shaun Greatbatch has passed away at the young age of 52! A lovely man and a great dart player. RIP Shaun."

Steve Beaton: "So sad to hear the awful news that Shaun Greatbatch has passed away at only 52. My deepest condolences to all his family and friends he was lovely guy."

Kevin Painter: "Saddened to hear of the shocking news of the death of Shaun Greatbatch. Condolences to the Greatbatch family, lovely guy... RIP Shaun."

Keith Deller: "Sad news to hear the passing of Shaun Greatbatch. Shaun was a brilliant darts player but fought so hard with his illness.

"But when I saw him he never moaned about it. Taken way too early. Thoughts are with Shaun's family at this very sad time - RIP Shaun."

Raymond van Barneveld: "Very sorry for your loss," replying to a tweet that confirmed Greatbatch had passed away.

"Fond memories of our times at the BDO. Shocked and sad with this news. Condolences to you and your family. RIP Shaun."

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