WITH archery's team competition having produced surprise gold medallists in the shape of Italy, County Durham shooter Alan Wills expects the Olympic individual tournament to be even more unpredictable.
Wills, who hails from Murton, opens his individual account with a testing first-round game against Australian Taylor Worth this afternoon.
Worth was ranked 19 places above his British opponent in Friday's ranking round, but with today's contest seeing each archer fire just 12 arrows, the slightest error will prove difficult to overcome.
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There have already been a number of shock results on the opening two days of individual competition, and while South Korea's archers will start as favourites to claim a gold medal despite their failure to land the team title, Wills insists the strength of the field makes the tournament far too close to call.
“Everyone in the top 55 can win this,” said the North-Easterner, who is now based in Cumbria. “With the depth there is in the world now, this is the Formula One of archery.
“I don't think there's anything else in any other sport that is as closely matched as here at the archery. There are about 55 men who are at the top of their game.
“The Korean boys tend to be close to the top and this is their national sport so they are phenomenal, but in an environment like this they are beatable.
“We have never had a Korean individual gold medallist ever, so it just shows that anyone and everyone can be beaten.”
Even so, Wills will almost certainly have to improve on his showing in both the ranking round and team competition to see off Worth this afternoon.
The Australian outscored him by eight points on Friday, but having made the final 16 of the Olympic individual competition in Beijing, the 30-year-old feels he is capable of turning the tables.
The team competition provided a taste of what to expect from the packed Lord's grandstands, and having watched team-mate Larry Godfrey embrace the lively atmosphere on Monday as he progressed to the last 16, Wills is determined to do himself justice.
“I've shot in front of some big crowds over the years and done well,” he said. “I shot at the World Championships in 2007 – there were some big crowds there, but I won a bronze medal.
“I'm just going to concentrate on doing my own thing. It's really exciting competing here. Every arrow is like the last arrow on tour you are ever going to shoot – it's now or never.”
* Wills' first-round match is scheduled for 3pm, with the winner due to face America's Brady Ellison or Philippines' Mark Javier later in the day.