By Mike Rowbottom at Team GB House in London

British archery_team_23_JulyJuly 24 - British archer Alison Williamson, who will take part in her sixth Olympics when her qualification round starts on Friday (July 27), has not ruled out extending her Games career to a seventh appearance, or even more.

"Never say never," said the 40-year-old from Melton Mowbray with a wide grin as she appeared at a pre-competition media event here along with her team-mates (pictured top) Naomi Folkard and Amy Oliver, and the men's trio of Larry Godfrey, Alan Wills and Simon Terry.

Reflecting on an achievement that will be matched this summer by fellow British competitors Mary King, who is in the eventing team, and show jumper Nick Skelton, Williamson said: "Some people watch television and dream about getting to the Olympics.

"I have just been very fortunate to get the chance to do six.

"When I started, I thought I might do one or two.

"But a lot of athletes are now continuing their careers for longer than they might have done in the past.

"We are able to be smarter in our training and recovery."

Alison Williamson_23_JulyAlison Williamson competes in her sixth Olympic Games this summer

Williamson, whose parents Sue and Tom will be present at the archery venue at Lord's cricket ground as volunteer Games Makers, was on the short-list to carry the British flag in the Opening Ceremony, a task that was handed yesterday to cyclist Sir Chris Hoy.

"It's a great honour even to be mentioned in a list of such people," she said.

"We voted for Chris – I think he's a great ambassador for everyone."

Reflecting on her last Olympic experience – when, with Folkard and Charlotte Burgess she lost in the team bronze medal match against France by 203-201 – she added: "To lose the medal by such a narrow margin in Beijing was gut-wrenching.

"It took a long time for me to get my head around it, basically to accept it.

"But that's life sometimes; it's not fair; you don't always win.

"We sat down as a team to look at what we could do to improve.

"At this level you can never discount anyone – everyone is in the mix."

While Beijing was a painful memory for her, the aftermath of her competition is something she recalls with a happier heart as she was able to watch a host of live sport for the rest of the Games.

"I saw Usain Bolt in the 100 metres," she recalled.

"I saw Michael Phelps in the 400m, I watched Beth Tweddle on the assymetric bars, I watched basketball, boxing, hockey, everything."

Alan Wills_23_JulyAlan Wills is part of the Team GB men's archery team

Williamson, Oliver and Folkard took silver at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games, where, in the final, they had to battle through noisy and on occasions untimely support in for the home nation who took the gold.

Oliver, who only managed to score six out of 10 in the din of the final round, said: "If we went back to Delhi now that wouldn't be a problem.

"At Lord's I think the supporters will have a better etiquette, and most people will be supporting us.

"We know everyone wants us to do our best – I think everyone will do their best to help us."

What has helped the archers acclimatise to noise is a regime which has included loud recordings of crowd noise that have been played during team training at Lilleshall – sometimes to the annoyance of local residents.

For the Olympic trials the noise levels rose still further as more than 1,000 local schoolchildren were invited in to bang drums, blow whistles and raise their voices.

"The letters of invitation said 'Please make as much noise as possible', recalled Williamson, a former primary school teacher, with one of her slightly unhinged laughs.

"It might even have asked for the noise when the archers were shooting.

"I had an eight-year-old a few feet away from me screaming at the top of her lungs – you have to ignore it."

While the women look ahead to Sunday's finals with quiet confidence, the men are preparing for their final on the previous day – which means they will definitely not attend the Opening Ceremony.

"We've won two medals in our last three major championships, including the Europeans," said Wills.

"The men's team have gelled absolutely brilliantly.

"I think we've got as good a chance as anyone."

Godfrey added:  "I'm in the form of my life.

"But you never know exactly how things are going to go.

"I finished fourth in Athens, and then I shot better in Beijing and went out in the first round."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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