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Sunday, 21 September 2014

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Cumbrian archery ace Alan Wills loses full-time funding

Stunned Alan Wills pledged to target a place in the 2016 Olympics in Rio – despite losing his full-time funding.

Alan Wills photo
Alan Wills

The Great Britain men’s team enjoyed a successful 2012, but archery has paid the price of failure at the London Olympics, with its funding slashed by almost 20 per cent by UK Sport. And the Cumbrian is now to return to work as a joiner.

“I’m gutted, to tell the truth,” said Wills, 31, who also shot for GB in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. “I’ve dedicated my life to competing for Great Britain and it’s a shock. The sport was always going to lose money because we didn’t perform at the Olympics. We beat the Olympic champions twice before the Olympics but it didn’t work on the one day it should have.”

Fellow stars Larry Godfrey, Simon Terry and Naomi Folkard have lost out, as the sport focuses on developing fresh talent for Rio.

“They are putting their eggs into developing kids,” said Wills, who feels he is still at the top of his game.

He had received funding since 2007, enabling him to train full-time. And he has also lost access to the extensive medical facilities available to leading internationals. But he is still focusing on the World Games, for field archery, in Colombia, in July, and the World Target championship in Turkey, in October.

“It just means my days get longer,” said Wills, a former field archery world champion, who will return to work for C & E Builders in Frizington, his home village. “I always worked a bit, to keep my hand in.

“I’m lucky to have a good employer. He has given me the freedom to do what I’ve done over the last six years. He’s an inspiration to other employers. You always need help in life if you want to achieve. In my head I’m still going for Rio. I’m determined to make it to the next Olympics and possibly the one after that. Losing a bit of money won’t stop me.”

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