'Never give up' motto Gillan lives by

Disabled darts player Rob Gillan with children Connor (18 months) and Bailey (7) in his garage...
Disabled darts player Rob Gillan with children Connor (18 months) and Bailey (7) in his garage with full-height and lower-height dart boards set up as he prepares to head to the Winmau World Cup in Belgium. PHOTO: CHRISTINE O'CONNOR
Rob Gillan will have more than just winning on his mind when he heads to Belgium in a month's time.

The 32-year-old is set to become New Zealand's first representative at the Winmau World Cup of Darts for players with disabilities, held in Ostend.

A paraplegic since the age of 14 - a forklift accident leaving him paralysed from the waist down - he will compete in a composite world team against other countries.

He will also play individually in the singles and his Otago coach, Eddie Girdler, will travel and coach the world team.

It will be his first appearance on the world stage - the first of many he hopes - although there is more than just winning on the line.

While being world champion is a goal, he hopes to help inspire others by showing them you can achieve your goals, despite any setbacks.

"I don't like to take no for an answer," he said.

"If I can do it, I can do it. If I can't, I'll damn well try hard to prove them wrong.

"Every interview I've done so far tends to have the slogan `never give up'.

"I've decided I'll get some shirts made up and I'll have `never give up' across the top of my back.

"Just to kind of say `this is how far I've come and you never give up, don't give up your dreams despite people telling you you can't do it'."

There have been many tough times for Gillan, who contends with depression.

Despite that, he has racked up a long list of achievements and there have been "a lot of firsts and seconds".

After his accident he began playing wheelchair basketball for Otago and did so through to 2016, while also representing New Zealand.

He also became the second New Zealand paraplegic to gain a C-class go-kart racing licence in 2011.

Outside of sport he left school early and, after a period of figuring out what he wanted to do, completed an architectural technology degree.

He now works for a contract drafting firm.

In 2003 he got together with now wife Candice. They have two children, Bailey (7) and Connor (18 months).

Darts has been something of a constant on both sides of the accident.

He played as a junior and, after an initial break, joined a pub league with his parents upon turning 18.

For over a decade he played on a full-height board, something he "kind of mastered" despite throwing from lower down.

However, since March last year he has been playing on a lower board which he is finding more natural.

He practises every day and plays in the Wednesday club league, finding it a good distraction from his depression.

The Otago Darts Association had been "excellent" in supporting that, while he added Healthcare New Zealand had also been instrumental.

But for now his focus is purely on Belgium. He leaves on February 19 and will compete that weekend.


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