Record breaking Olympic archer bows out

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Six-time Olympic archer Alison Williamson MBE has announced her retirement from the sport.

The former world number one and Olympic bronze medallist today called time on her international career at the age of 42.

Williamson became only the third Brit to take part in six consecutive Olympics when she competed at London 2012. She previously won a bronze medal in Athens in 2004 having first appeared on the Olympic scene in Barcelona in 1992.

As well as Olympic success she won individual and team commonwealth silver medals in Delhi in 2010, along with a host of other international and domestic titles. She was awarded an MBE for services to archery.

Williamson, a primary school teacher,  who lives in the village of Great Haywood near Stafford, said in the end it was not a tough decision to give up international competition after more than a quarter of a century.

“I just couldn’t continue to dedicate the hours needed to be competing at the top level any more. It has been an amazing journey. The sport has been a part of my life since I was six years old and has taken me to places, and introduced me to people, that I would not have had the pleasure of in any other profession.

“But I put my teaching career on hold to represent my country at various events across the globe and now the time is right to just concentrate on the day job.”

Her greatest success came in 2004 when she won individual bronze at the games in Athens by a single point in a nail-biting match with Shu Chi Yuan of Chinese Taipei. Four years later in Beijing she narrowly missed out on adding to her collection as part of the British Team which lost in the bronze-medal match.

She continued: “All the Olympics have been special and hold some incredible memories for me. I suppose the two that stand out would be Athens and of course London – and what better way to end your involvement in international competition than at the Games in your own country.

“I am so grateful to all the coaches, team mates, family and friends who have helped me achieved so much in sport. Without their support over the years there wouldn’t be the medals, titles and certainly not six Olympics.”

Away from the archery field, Williamson has kept her sport in the spotlight – including carrying the Olympic Flame through Much Wenlock, turning on the Christmas Lights for both Church Stretton and Stafford, and most notably posing nude, with her strategically placed bow, for an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in 1996.

Williamson is a member of the Long Mynd Archers in Church Stretton – a club founded by her parents, Tom and Sue, who are both respected coaches. And she had an early taste of Olympic success when winning a silver medal at the age of ten at the 1981 Wenlock Olympian Games – an event which is said to be the inspiration for the modern Olympics.

But despite ending her international career, Williamson will still be involved in archery at grassroots level working with Energize – the county sports partnership for Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin – to promote Olympic values and introduce youngsters to the sport.

“Archery is a fantastic activity and that is why I still love being a part of it. And you never know, among the thousands of youngsters I get to meet there may be a budding Olympic champion,” she added.


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