By Mike Rowbottom

Alison Williamson, pictured at her sixth Olympics in London, has retired ©Getty ImagesApril 22 - Alison Williamson, the archer who became only the third Briton to take part in six Olympics when she competed at London 2012, will not seek a record-breaking seventh appearance at the Rio 2016, having decided to retire from the sport.

The 42-year-old from Melton Mowbray, who made her Team GB debut at Barcelona 1992, won Olympic bronze in Athens in 2004 and took individual and team silver for England at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games.

She will not be able to compete at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games this summer as archery - which has only appeared at the 1982 and 2010 Commonwealths in Brisbane and New Delhi respectively - has been dropped from the programme.

Williamson, a primary school teacher from Stafford, said: "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 part of my life since I was six years old. But I put my teaching career on hold to represent my country at events across the globe and now the time is right to just concentrate on the day job."

Williamson's finest individual moment occurred at Athens 2004, where she beat Shu Chi Yuan of Chinese Taipei by a single point in the bronze medal match.

Four years later in Beijing she narrowly missed out on team bronze to France.

Alison Williamson in the Panithanaikon Stadium with her bronze medal at the Athens 2004 Olympics ©AFP/Getty ImagesAlison Williamson in the Panithanaikon Stadium with her Olympic bronze medal at Athens 2004 ©AFP/Getty Images

"The Olympics have been special and hold some incredible memories for me," she said.

"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 that at the Games in your own country?

"I am so grateful to all the coaches, team mates, family and friends who have helped me achieve so much.

"Without their support over the years there wouldn't be the medals, titles and certainly not six Olympics.

Williamson's first Olympic success came aged 10 when she won silver at the Wenlock Olympian Games, the event established in 1850 by the Dr William Penny Brookes, which is credited as an inspiration for the modern Olympics.

She was only the third Briton to have competed at six Olympics following javelin thrower Tessa Sanderson, who won gold at her third Games in 1984, and fencer Bill Hoskyns, who competed from 1956 to 1976, winning two silver medals.

By dint of the London 2012 programme she was able to beat fellow Britons Nick Skelton and Mary King, show jumper and eventer respectively, to that Olympic mark.

Williamson establish herself as one of Britain's all-time best performers in a career which has also seen her claim individual world silver in 1999,  a world team bronze in 2007 and - very nearly - an Olympic team bronze at the Beijing Games, where she and her two fellow shooters were beaten in the third and fourth place match by France.

"That was really hard," she recalls.

"I wouldn't want to be in that position again!"

She is a member of Long Mynd Archers in Church Stretton - a club founded by her parents, coaches Tom and Sue, who attended the London 2012 archery venue at Lord's cricket ground as volunteer Games Makers.

Williamson will still be involved in archery as she works 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 this is why I still love being a part of it," she said.

"And you never know, among the thousands of youngsters I get to meet there may be a budding Olympic champion."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
July 2012: British archer does not rule out seventh Games appearance
May 2012: Williamson set for sixth consecutive Olympics after being named in Team GB for London 2012
January 2012: Alan Hubbard - Sorcerer Alison and apprentice Amy will be targeting gold at London 2012
September 2011: Athletes aim for London 2012 spot at archery test event
July 2011: Williamson on perfecting her concentration for London 2012 and making Olympic history