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Last Updated: Monday, 21 May 2007, 09:29 GMT 10:29 UK
Williamson on target for 2012?
By Mark Barden

Alison Williamson
I'll be 40 in 2012, but I feel 10 years younger than I am

Alison Williamson on her London Olympics ambition
If Alison Williamson tells you before Beijing 2008 that it is her last Olympic Games, do not believe a word of it.

The experienced British archer said as much ahead of Athens 2004 and promptly went and won bronze in the women's individual 70m event.

"I tend to say it at every Olympics - in fact, the only Games I haven't said it at was my first in Barcelona in 1992!" Williamson told BBC Sport.

"I said it in Atlanta and Sydney, then Athens, because by the time I get to the Olympics I just want to get it over and done with."

Williamson's medal in 2004 was the highlight of a long career which has also included silvers at both world and European level.

But she is not in podium form at present, and is hoping for an upturn in her performances ahead of the World Championships in Leipzig in July.

"My season so far hasn't been great at international level," the 35-year-old admitted to BBC Sport.

"In the last World Cup event in Italy, I did pretty dismally in the individual competition and didn't really help to turn things round for the team either.

"It was very disappointing - in the lead-up things had been going well. I shot OK at the first selection weekend for the World Championships and have been very consistent in practice."

Williamson's "OK" display in Worlds selection actually earned her a new British record score for a 12-arrow pass of 116 out of 120.

I always ask myself, have I given 100%, have I done all that I can do?

Alison Williamson

"At the moment, that kind of form is eluding me on the international stage, but I'm not too concerned and I'm sure it will come back," she said.

"I'd rather have a rubbish World Cup event in Italy than a rubbish World Championships in Germany this summer."

Competitions are coming thick and fast as Beijing begins to loom on the horizon, with an elite-level outing every three weeks or so.

The need to take part in as many as possible, with all the travelling that involves, plus the training and preparation, convinced Williamson to go full-time after Easter 2006.

She had been working as a primary school teacher, having completed her training after returning from Athens with her bronze medal.

"It's very hard to combine working with sport at the highest level, and I just needed to take more time off for competitions," Williamson explained.

"I was going straight from school to the airport on Friday afternoons, getting home on Sunday night, then back into school the next day. I never had a break or enough time to prepare things.

Alison Williamson at Lord's, which will host the archery events at the 2012 Olympics.
I took part in an archery demonstration at Lord's a couple of years ago and it would be good to be back there in 2012

Alison Williamson

"I had one week off in term time when my headteacher let me go to the World Championships, which was great but it wasn't enough."

Lottery funding allows Williamson to train and compete without distractions, and she recently secured sponsorship from DIY giant B&Q, becoming one of its Team B&Q Olympians.

She believes the level of both physical and mental stamina needed to succeed at archery's highest levels is underestimated by many people.

"In competitions, practice starts at 8am and we will still be out on the field at maybe 6pm. There are breaks, but you have to practise during them and maintain your concentration levels.

"If you're not physically in shape, you can't stay mentally in shape, and my strength and overall fitness have really improved since I went full-time."

That improvement has helped, Williamson believes, to make competing on home soil at the 2012 London Olympics a realistic goal.

"I don't want to race too far ahead because I've got to focus on 2008. I'll be another four years older in 2012, but at the moment I'm physically in very good condition - I feel 10 years younger than I am."


If she does continue competing at the highest level through to 2012, Williamson could be joined in London by some talented young archers.

"There are juniors now who are shooting really well - so well that some will be pushing for the 2008 Olympics," she said.

"The club I belong to, Long Mynd Archers in Shropshire, is growing all the time, and a lot of the newer members are juniors.

"Like a lot of other clubs, it tries to encourage archery as a family sport. The kids aren't just dropped off and picked up later, parents take part too. We've got three generations of some families shooting."

Who knows, some of those juniors may one day experience the buzz Williamson felt when the bronze was draped around her neck in Athens.

"My initial reaction was shock at finally having won an Olympic medal, then there was the relief of having actually done it," she recalled.

"Going home having come fourth would have been terrible. I don't think I'd be shooting now if that had happened."

British archers scoop two medals
08 Apr 07 |  Other Sport...
Williamson misses out on bronze
24 Oct 06 |  Other Sport...
Williamson hints at rethink
18 Aug 04 |  Archery
Archery bronze for Williamson
18 Aug 04 |  Archery
Williamson claims silver
22 May 04 |  Archery


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