New Zealand darts player Bernie Smith to achieve lifelong goal competing at Darts World Championships

For decades Kiwi darts player Bernie Smith has been trying to qualify for the biggest tournament the sport has to offer - the Darts World Championships.

But after winning the Oceanic Masters, his prize was a ticket to London at none other than the home of the sport - Alexandra Palace. 

The 53-year-old will be one of 72 players from 24 countries fighting it out to be crowned World Champion.

But it wasn't that long ago that Smith, a plasterer from Christchurch, nearly gave it all up after almost half his life dedicated to the sport.

"I've probably been trying 20 years easy," he told Newshub.

"I didn't think I was going to get there, I was going to chuck it all in.

"I was still playing as good as I have been but I'd tried so many times to make the Ally Pally and thought it was over and then Dubbo came." 

Reigning world champion Michael van Gerwin
Reigning world champion Michael van Gerwin Photo credit: Getty

It is the first time Smith would have competed in England, but he has previously faced one of the biggest names in the sport.

In 2016, he qualified for the Auckland Darts Masters where he faced two-time World Champion, Gary Anderson.

But playing on the biggest stage, in front of a packed arena is going to be a completely new ballgame.

Smith lost the match 6-2, but he admits playing at the Alexandra Palace is going to be an unbelievable experience.

"I've never gone to a place and relied on one game to get me to the next. It's usually a full tournament in a day and then carries on to the next tournament the next day.

"I'm nervous as. I'm one of those guys that feels if I'm not nervous something not right so I'm one of those ones."

A look inside the 'Ally Pally' in London
A look inside the 'Ally Pally' in London Photo credit: Getty
The fans will bring color and noise to a wonderful two-weeks of darts
The fans will bring color and noise to a wonderful two-weeks of darts Photo credit: Getty

Before Smith qualifies for the main 64-man draw, he must win a preliminary qualifier against Chinese teenager Xiao Chen Zong on Thursday, December 21 (NZ time)

"I know nothing about him [Zong], I haven't looked him up or nothing so we will see what happens.

"The boys have been ringing me saying you're playing this guy and blah blah blah. He competed in the Shanghai Masters but we will see."

 If Smith beats Zong, he will face a former top 10 player, but he is trying not to look that far ahead just yet.

"If I win, I'll play Justin Pipe that night, the same night, and we will see what happens. But I got to try get through my first one."

Smith is one of two New Zealanders who will be competing with Kiwi No 1 Cody Harris also qualifying for the event.

The Darts World Championships get underway on December 15 (NZ time).