MATHEMATICS has always been a big part of John Levick's life.
From school arithmetic, the Adamstown resident followed numbers to work in payroll.
However, he never realised it would lead him to croquet, a game of hitting balls with a mallet through hoops, which has been his passion for nearly 30 years.
"I love it, the sheer mathematics of the game," Levick said.
He believes it is one of the most exacting sports as there is less than one millimetre tolerance between the ball and the hoop.
Then there is the mallet's length and weight as well as shot angles.
Levick describes croquet as a cross between snooker/billiards, chess and golf.
"It is a game of strategy," he said.
Introduced to croquet in 1986, Levick had a natural talent for it.
He played his first competition, NSW Handicap Championship, in 1987 and was "thrashed".
The following year, he won it.
Since then the Newcastle National Park Croquet Club member has been club champion 20 out of 26 times.
He has also won titles at local, state and national level such as handicap championships, champions of champions, under-35 champions, doubles at golf croquet and singles in association croquet.
He has represented Australia in Egypt, South Africa and the UK, with his highest accolade a bronze at the inaugural 2013 Over-50 Golf Croquet World Championship in Cairo, Egypt.
Aged 72, Levick plays two or three times a week.
"It is like an opiate," he said. "If I do not play for a week it feels like something is wrong, like my arm is cut off."
He vows to play until he cannot stand.
On Sunday, he was inducted into the Hunter Region Sporting Hall of Fame for his contribution to croquet on and off the field.
Levick said he was elated and humbled by the honour.