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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 November 2007, 11:49 GMT
Wills takes aim for Dubai
By Peter Jones

Alan Wills
Wills is targeting individual and team medals in Beijing next year
British archer Alan Wills is a man on a mission. A mission that could ultimately make him 10,000 better off.

Wills heads off to Dubai this week as he seeks to round off a terrific year by winning the gold medal at the Grand Final of the International Archery Federation's (Fita) World Cup.

He is one of four archers who have qualified for the men's recurve tournament at the prestigious event, following four qualifying tournaments held earlier in the year.

And, in a sport of little financial reward, the added bonus of a first-prize cash incentive adds a significant edge to the Dubai showdown.

But whether he wins a gold medal and comes home with a nice Christmas bonus, or finishes in fourth place and returns empty handed, just being in Dubai represents a year of remarkable progress that has seen the Cumbrian shooter emerge as one of the world's leading target archers.

For Wills, however, that is not enough. His sights are set on glory at next year's Olympics in Beijing, and ultimately he wants to be the world's undisputed number one recurve archer.

"I was the world number one field archer, but felt I needed a new challenge," said 26-year-old Wills.

"So I switched to target archery - I felt it was a better quality of competition, higher standards and, of course, the incentive of taking part in the Olympic Games.

The standard of British archery at international level this year has been pushed up to new levels
Alan Wills
"Obviously it is fantastic to have qualified for the Grand Final of the World Cup, but Beijing is the big ambition - and then London 2012. Having said that, I'm certainly not going out to Dubai to make up the numbers."

With Simon Terry and Larry Godfrey, Wills has been part of a formidable GB men's recurve team that won medals at two World Cup tournaments this year, and took the silver at the Fita World Championships in Leipzig in July.

Individually, he announced his arrival at the highest level when he took bronze in Leipzig then crowned off a fabulous fortnight when he took silver at the Dover World Cup event two weeks later.

Indeed, it was his performance at Dover that clinched him his place at the Dubai World Cup Grand Final, and also convinced him to give up his day job as a carpenter and concentrate on archery full-time.

"I've had a great year, but I don't think I could have gone further if I continued working. I have struggled with a shoulder injury for a couple of years, and it played up during the Dover event.

"I think the problems were mostly related to being a carpenter. I was doing an eight hour day at work, then going home, practising, and my body was tired.

BRITISH ARCHERY
Alan Wills, Larry Godfrey and Simon Terry
GB has qualified the maximum three men and three women for the Beijing Olympics
Wills, Terry and Godfrey are world silver medallists and Europe's top men's team
The women's team of Athens bronze medallist Alison Williamson, Naomi Folkard and Charlotte Burgess are also ranked top in Europe
"It was affecting my training and my shoulder. I had the opportunity through funding to go full-time, and thought I just had to go for it - so I did.

"I've achieved so much this year with working, now see where I can go without, but I'm ambitious, I want to be a great at the sport, I want people to respect me as one of the greats, and that doesn't come overnight.

"I want to be around for next 10 years at least. I'm only 26, so time's on my side."

Wills paid tribute to the quality of coaching he is receiving, and also to the standards of his Team GB team-mates.

"The standard of British archery at international level this year has been pushed up to new levels," said Wills.

"But we get fantastic support and we have a wonderful head coach in Peter Suk. So taking all that into account, and the terrific sense of friendship and camaraderie throughout the GB squad, we are very lucky."

Despite his single-minded approach to achieving his ambitions, Wills makes sure he has a release away from archery. In his case it is golf.

606: DEBATE
Mark A - BBC Sport
"You've got to have other releases and a balance in life, and golf helps me switch off," he said. "Before stopping work, it was all work and archery, but I know you need something different. I might even start studying to take my mind off it."

But archery is Wills' big passion, and now he has tasted life as a medal winner on the international stage, he now wants to make the top place on the podium his own personal kingdom. Starting this week in Dubai.

Alan Wills is among the British athletes who BBC Sport will be following during the countdown to the Beijing Olympics.



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