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It has been a fantastically successful Olympics for Team GB, and as I've watched the cyclists and the sailors enjoying the limelight, I suppose I cannot help reflect on the disappointment that GB's six archers will be returning home empty-handed.

I think the reason Archery GB has been so flat is that expectations were so high, and it is to the credit of our archers that that was so. Alison Williamson, Alan Wills et al have all performed so well on the international stage over the past four years that observers such as myself started to become too confident.

It all started with a bronze for Alison at Athens in 2004, and a fourth place finish for Larry Godfrey. Since then, they have won a number of medals at various international competitions, ranging from world and European championships, to World Cup tournaments. And not for nothing are our women's team ranked second in the world, and the men fifth.

Continue reading "A missed opportunity for GB archers"

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Watching sport should be fun. And usually it is. Unless you're watching an event where you have a vested interest.

Like Sunday's women's archery team tournament at the Olympics in Beijing.

As the media adviser to Archery GB, I know Alison Williamson, Naomi Folkard and Charlotte Burgess, and have a great deal of time and respect for all three of them.

So obviously I was willing them to win a medal. Gold was a tall order - the Koreans are quite simply phenomenal, but silver was a possibility; bronze I'd have settled for.

Continue reading "Archery tears speak volumes"

Britain's archers have an excellent chance of winning individual and team medals, but the South Koreans will be the ones to beat in Beijing when the competition gets underway on Saturday.

Archery accounted for three of the nine gold medals South Korea won in Athens four years ago, and they have a deep pool of talented archers who are all more than capable of winning medals.

Athens gold medalist Park Sung-hyun and 12-arrow world record holder Yoon Ok-hee will lead the South Korean women's squad, while the men's team will include Im Dong-hyun, the reigning world champion.

Continue reading "Dominating South Koreans are not invincible"

This weekend, Britain's Olympic archers will be heading off to Macau to begin final preparations for Beijing.

Alan Wills, Larry Godfrey, Simon Terry, Alison Williamson, Naomi Folkard and Charlotte Burgess will be carrying British hopes of medals in this competition, and I genuinely believe they have prospects, both in the individual events, and certainly in the team tournaments.

They, and the 12 Paralympians who will be heading off later in August, were given a hearty send-off last weekend, with a big barbeque reception, and it was hard not to be excited on their behalf.

Continue reading "Archers upbeat ahead of departure"

A team of 11 archers will represent Great Britain at the Paralympic Games in Beijing in September and I would happily wager a few quid that they will not be returning home from China empty handed.

You could not wish to meet a more pleasant group. They really are an inspiring bunch , and in Tim Hazell they have an excellent coach. It's always a pleasure to be in their company, and they always make me feel very welcome.

But, delightful people though they may be, they are also very determined. There was no great celebration when the squad was announced, just a steely determination all around the room that achieving selection was only the start - all of them are focussed on being successful. And success means medals.

Continue reading "Paralympic archers eyeing medals"

So we now know the identity of the six archers who will be flying the flag for Britain at the Olympic Games in Beijing.

In case you missed it, the six are: Simon Terry, Alan Wills and Larry Godfrey in the men's tournament, and Alison Williamson, Charlotte Burgess and Naomi Folkard in the women's.

To a certain extent, there was a sense of inevitablity about it all. With every respect to the other hopefuls, I for one never felt that the list would be anything other than the six names now on it.

But try telling the archers it was a forgone conclusion.

Continue reading "Tough battle for inevitable qualification"

Over two days next week (18 and 19 June), the top eight British recurve archers will do battle for six places in the Olympic team.

Alan Wills, Larry Godfrey, Simon Terry and Tom Barber are chasing three places in the men's tournament at Beijing, while Alison Williamson, Naomi Folkard, Charlotte Burgess and Emma Downie face the same equation in the women's event.

If you take into account that, for archers, representing your country at the Olympic Games is the ultimate in achievement, then you won't just be able to feel the tension at Lilleshall next week, you'll probably be able to bounce it up and down.

Continue reading "GB archers line-up final target"

I've trained with professional footballers, and as a one time wannabe soon found out the standards you need to make the grade.

I've been bowled at by a former Test player and never even got sight of the ball, and I've watched professional boxers train and been almost frightened by the levels of fitness they achieve before a fight.

The difference between being good at a sport and competing at the very highest level is massive. Attention to detail is paramount - the science of sport can make so much difference in that quest for perfection and glory.

So last week, the British elite archers travelled to Germany to work on the finest detail of their performance.

Continue reading "GB archers attend to finest details"

Margins in archery are as miniscule as they come. Sometimes the difference between scoring a 10 or a 9 is a matter of millimetres between one side of the line and the other.

And that one point can make all the difference in the outcome of a match, the destination of a championship and - every four years - even Olympic selection.

Take last week, for instance, at the European Championships, at Vittel in France.

Continue reading "Archers in good heart despite Euro near-misses"

As I watched Manchester United beat Wigan, and win the FA Premier League yet again, I couldn't help but think that by the time they begin yet another defence of the title in mid-August, the Olympic Games will be in full swing.

Hopefully the start of the new football season will be overshadowed by stories of British success in Beijing. And yes, I am confident our archers will be among them, deserving a rare flirtation in the limelight.

For many of the 28 Olympic sports, the Games offers a once-every-four-year opportunity for a brief moment in the proverbial sun. If there is some success, suddenly the nation sits up and takes notice. Remember the excitement generated by the British curling ladies winning gold at the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Continue reading "Olympics push minority sports into limelight"

Team GB head off to the European Championships in Vittel, France, this weekend determined to put up another good show, but at the same time, seeing this tournament as another step along the way to Beijing.

That is not in anyway to under-estimate tournaments such as European Championships, or the FITA World Cup events, but just to give you an understanding of how much the Olympics mean to our archers; indeed to all athletes, I'm sure.

All members of the Team GB elite squad have their attention focused on one goal: clinching a place on the Olympic team. And rest assured, the three men and three women who do make the squad won't just be going for the experience.

Continue reading "D-day looms for Britain's top archers"

If I was given a fiver whenever someone said the name Robin Hood after learning of my association with archery, then I would have long since become a multi-millionaire.

It's such a cliché - but that's not to say that the archery fraternity under-estimate the power of the aforementioned outlaw. When the BBC series was launched 18 months ago, there was a dramatic burst in interest in archery - just as there was as each of the Lord of the Rings trilogy was launched. Nice one Legolas!

But what people really react to is success. And over the past few years, British international archers have done us all proud. The initial trigger to this was Alison Williamson (pictured) winning the bronze medal in the women's individual tournament at the Athens Olympics four years ago.

Continue reading "From Hollywood to Lilleshall - GB archery's success story"

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