Take a bow, Alison Williamson

Take a bow, Alison Williamson. For your refusal to be drawn into blaming the home crowd for England’s one-point defeat by India in the final of the women’s team recurve archery competition at Delhi 2010.  Take a bow, Alison. For the grace with you handled questions about the cheering and whistling when Amy Oliver and you took aim with your final arrows.

On a day when India’s Dola Banerjee, Bombyala Devi and Deepika Kumari’s late comeback received the backing of a vociferous crowd at the Yamuna Sports Compex, it would have been the easiest of things for 2004 Olympic Games bronze medallist Williamson and her England team-mates Amy Oliver and Naomi Folkard to blame the noisy spectators for their defeat.

Instead, the 38-year-old Williamson did well to point out that the archers had to get used to the crowd. “You have to deal with it. It is a part of the competition and on Sunday when we have the individual event I’m sure the home crowd will be vocal so we are just going to have to adapt to it,” she told reporters, showing a fantastic heart and sportsmanship.

For a team that led by three points at the half-way stage and held that lead until the final series, Oliver and Williamson felt the pressure when shooting their final arrows, securing 6 and 8. On the contrary, riding on some throaty support and immense self-belief, the Indians delivered higher scores in crunch situations.

Six years ago, Williamson won the Olympic bronze in Athens with the final arrow after a stiff contest. On Friday, she had a chance to repeat that feat. She needed to shoot a perfect 10 but managed 8, conceding the gold to the home side. Her team may have had to settle for the silver but she was delivering a golden showing herself.

Williamson did well not to be led into blaming either Oliver or herself for the one-point defeat. “We try not to look at individual arrows – we shot as a team and all the arrows count. It’s the way it goes sometimes,” she said. “If you’d told us before the Games we’d get the silver, we’d have been delighted.”

Above all, Williamson did well to say that the England team respected its opposition. Surely, the Indians deserved the commendation after showing nerves of steel in the tense final moments when the crowd worked for one team and against another, leading the International Archery Federation to remind the enthusiastic fans to respect all athletes and practice fair play.

Having let FITA to say that, he own conduct – and graceful response is what marks Williamson as a true champion.