A DISABLED man has become one of Britain’s top pool players despite not having use of his arms — because he holds the cue in his mouth.
Darren Madden is the top disabled pool player in England and recently came second in the European Championships, due to the deadly accuracy he gets from potting with his mouth.
The 46-year-old ‘pool shark’ was born with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita, a condition that causes multiple curved joints and has left him with very little use of his arms and hands.
But the pool maestro started playing in a pub league aged 14, only taking the game more seriously in the last 15 years.
Darren, nicknamed Skippy by his brother in childhood, got his big break when a video of him playing pool on YouTube caught the attention of England’s disabled team selectors.
He said: ‘Pool is just something I tried one day. People often ask me what it feels like. To me, it feels completely natural. I’ve never played any differently.
‘For me, I’m the only normal one out there. It’s the other players who stand out.
‘I’ve never been someone who won’t do something or try something because of disability.’
Darren’s unique playing style has started to draw large crowds.
But that has not stopped him from rising in the pool rankings, and last week came second in the European Championships out of a 150-strong field, losing 4-1 to Scottish player Jonathon Adams in the final.
The competition was streamed live and the disabled final drew more viewers than its able-bodied equivalent.
Darren said: ‘I was elated, and feeling very proud. But it was also bittersweet.
‘It was a massive achievement to get to the final, but once there I wanted to win.’
Darren, from Romney Marsh, Kent, also helped England get to the semi-finals in the team event at the same competition, held in Bridlington, Yorkshire, earlier this month.
He won the EBPF national disabled singles event held in Mansfield last year.
He said: ‘I can’t believe the reaction I get. It is so amazing. More and more people are attending my events after seeing my YouTube videos.
‘People pose for photos with me after games. Nobody says anything horrible. It’s mainly just “wow” and “how do you do it?”.’
The former Pent Valley student has competed at both national and European levels over the last few years including the National, European and World Championships.
He dreams of going one better at the European championships next year and even winning the World Championships one day.
Darren added: ‘I always give 100 per cent and enter competitions to win. Nobody likes to lose.
‘Representing my country as part of the England team is the most important thing for me.
‘The camaraderie between the players is exceptional and the England squad is renowned for its team spirit and top banter.’