Meet the man known as the Pietersen of archery

Flamboyant archer Larry Godfrey has been compared to England's star cricketer and, fittingly, he aims to get GB off to a flyer at Lord's today. He talks to Simon Turnbull

It will be another three weeks before the original Kevin Pietersen gets to pit himself against the world's best at the home of cricket – after a trip up to Headingley to face Hashim Amla and the rest of the in-form South Africans. In the meantime, the stage is set at Lord's for the man who has long been known as "the Kevin Pietersen of archery".

At 9am today, a full 12 hours before the formal opening ceremony across town, Olympic action comes to London for the first time since 1948 in the form of the ranking rounds for the men's team and individual archery. Shooting in the British men's team will be Larry Godfrey, a Bristolian who repairs Apache helicopters for a living and whose blond highlights and flamboyant character have earned him comparison with England's hot-and-cold No 4 batsman.

"I don't know about that," Godfrey, right, insisted. "I'm no switch-hitter."

At 36, Godfrey is a veteran of three Olympic Games. In Athens in 2004 he lost out in the individual bronze medal match by one tantalising point to Tim Cuddihy of Australia. His target this morning is to get Team GB off to a flying start in London.

"Let's hope me or one of the other guys in the team can get a British record first up," he said. "Let's take our record down just before the opening ceremony. People will say, 'What's going on here? The British archery team has broken a record. Here we go'."

There will be no medals at stake today. The 64 male bowmen, and in the afternoon the 64 female archers, shoot 72 arrows each to determine the seeding for the main competition.

They will do so, for today only, outside the main arena at Lord's in the nets area at the Nursery End. Asked whether it would still feel like the Olympics, Alison Williamson, the 40-year-old veteran of the GB women's team, replied: "Oh, yeah. It's all part of it. The competition matches will take place on the main field."

Williamson is guaranteed a place in the record books today, when the women's ranking rounds start at 1pm. The former primary school teacher will become the third British Olympian to compete in six Games, following in the footsteps of fencer Bill Hoskyns and javelin thrower Tessa Sanderson.

"I've just been fortunate in the opportunities I've been given," she said. "I know people watching on television dream of competing in an Olympics. To be going to my sixth… I'm just very grateful and thankful."

It will be one six at Lord's that has been two decades in coming. Williamson made her debut in Barcelona in 1992 and won an individual bronze medal in Athens eight years ago – shooting in the grand marble surrounding of the Panathinaiko Stadium, where the first modern Olympics of 1896 were staged.

Asked whether she happened to be a cricket fan, Williamson said, "Em… I have been watching it. If it's on, I'll watch it. To have a venue like Lord's is fantastic. It's interesting to have a good backdrop, rather than a target in the middle of a field. We don't get opportunities to shoot at places like Lord's very often, so it will be very special."

There will be some special Olympians gracing the cathedral of cricket, too. Not least of them is Im Dong-hyun, another archer with a highlighted mop – in his case burnt orange.

Koreans have come to dominate archery at the Olympics and Im has won two team gold medals. The South Korean also happens to be legally blind, with vision of 20/100 in his right eye and 20/200 in his left. And now with 2012 gold to aim at.

Comments