In celebration of International Women's Day, we caught up with #TargetTarget stars Mikuru and Lorraine to talk about how the sport they love has evolved, what still needs to be done and their vision for the future.
Q. Which female sporting icons did you look up to in your early sporting career?
Yoshida Saori - a former Japanese wrestler. From 1998 she won almost every major competition including three Olympic Games, four Asian Games, and 13 World Championships. She became the most decorated athlete in freestyle wrestling history.
Q. Do you think women's standing in sport has changed over the years?
Things are changing. There is much more coverage in ladies sports and the prize money is getting bigger for us too.
Q. Do you think advocating for equal airtime for women's sports is important?
Currently the balance of men and women's airtime is not equal. The majority who watch sports are men, so there is more coverage of men in sports. But I believe as long as women try hard, men will be interested in watching these competitions too. I find ladies tennis and golf so interesting to watch in Japan. Equal airtime could be the 1st step to promoting women in sports.
Q. With all the discussion on women's equality in sport going on, what do you think needs to happen to push it forward?
Prize and sponsorship money. If women can earn as much as men, more will try and reach the top.
Q. When it comes to advocating for women in sports, what do you hope your legacy will be?
I'd like to be remembered for being a pioneer for change in women's darts around the world, someone who helped change common misconceptions of the sport. Darts is not just a game for men, and it's not a game that's only played in pubs and bars. I'm the first Asian to win the Ladies World Championships and since winning 2 years ago I already see more ladies joining and winning tournaments all over Asia. There's definitely been an increase in young and talented ladies playing the sport.
Q. How do you feel women's exposure in darts has evolved over the last few years?
Exposure for women's darts has come a long way over the last few years. I remember when the lady's games were not guaranteed to be shown live on TV and if you were lucky the last 6 darts of matches might be shown as highlights. I think the standard of the lady's game has risen so much, the games are exciting and therefore make great viewing.
Q. What is it like to be participating in one of the few sports in the world that allow women to compete with men?
I love playing darts against men. That's how I started to get involved in the game. I played in my local pub and was the only woman playing there. I used to travel to local knockouts where there weren't even enough ladies to separate the competition so we were thrown in against the men. It's great to be in a sport where there is no physical difference when it comes to competing.
Q. What advice would you give to any female looking to compete in darts?
My advice to any female who wants to compete in darts is go for it! Believe in yourself and practice. Find a local team to go join. It's a very sociable sport, competitive and great fun.
Q. What does it mean to you to be a professional darts player?
Being a professional dart player was not my initial aim when I first started playing. It was small steps… I played local league then super league. I wanted to be selected for county, then for county I really wanted to represent England. I will always remember catching a snippet of a ladies game on TV years ago and thinking, I could do that. With hard work and determination I've found myself competing on the professional circuit so it all came as natural progression and I love it. It has its ups and downs though. I'm lucky to have visited places I would have never considered visiting and I have friends all over the world. The down side is I am away from home a lot and unfortunately the prize money is nowhere near enough for this to be my job.
Q. What do you see as the future in darts for women?
I'm hoping there is exciting times ahead for ladies darts with the recent performances from Fallon at the PDC World Championship and Lisa earning her first Tour card. This helps to prove ladies can play. I feel there is room for a professional ladies tour as the PDC has all other bases covered apart from the ladies. The standard has risen so much over the last few years we are all having to work so much harder to compete with each other. We all want to be at the top end of the game.