LARRY Godfrey will go for gold on Friday after wowing an expectant Lord's crowd with a stunning display of shooting to advance from the last 64 to the last 16.
The Bristol archer, who finished fourth in the Athens Olympics, shook off any disappointment from Great Britain's first-round team exit to beat Mohammed Emdadul Haque Milon of Bangladesh and Mexico's Juan Rene Serrano yesterday.
The 36-year-old Rolls-Royce engineer, who has lived in Kingswood, Downend and now Stoke Bishop, dropped only nine points in four sets in his 7-1 last-32 win over Serrano, who had earlier seen off 2004 individual champion and this year's team gold medallist, Marco Galiazzo.
Godfrey had been hit by nerves when he first stepped out at Lord's on Saturday – admitting he was almost sick after catching sight of his fiancée, Rebecca, and children Shelbie and Chloe in the crowd.
But he was as cool as they come yesterday, playing to the vociferous home crowd and living up to his reputation as one of archery's – not to mention the Great Britain Olympic squad's – biggest characters.
"That was a bit of fun – that's what we're here to do," said Godfrey. "My goal coming to these Olympics was just to shoot the best I can. I've been working very hard to get my level up to compete with the best in the world.
"I'm having some great shooting at the moment – and have been for the last couple of years now. If coming here and shooting my best meant I won a match, then brilliant, but if not, then so be it. "Earlier, we saw the Egyptian lad (Ahmed El-Nemr), who was ranked very low, but he bounced out a 10, 10, 10 and took out Crispin Duenas, the Canadian. That shouldn't happen but it does. You can't rely on any seeding or rankings in this arena, you've just got to go out there and do your best."
Godfrey went into the last 64 ranked fourth of all competitors – and dominated his opening encounter against Milon. Godfrey won the first set 29-26 after shooting two maximums, before Milon's nerves appeared to get the better of him in the second as he shot only 18, with Godfrey scoring 27.
With two points awarded for each set won – and one for a tie – the winner is the first to reach six points, and Godfrey wrapped up victory with a further maximum in the third, taking the set 28-19 for a 6-0 win.
Serrano was a tougher opponent – but after winning the first set 26-25, Godfrey landed a 10 with the final shot of the second to force a tie. Two more golds set up a 27-26 win in the third set, before a 29 in the final set sealed an emphatic 7-1 win and a place in the last 16.
And Godfrey admitted he had thrived on the noisy support from the Brits who formed the majority of yesterday's 4,500 crowd.
"You've got to enjoy it – this is a show," said Godfrey. "The Olympics is a show, and, yes, we're competing for medals, but the crowd were behind me and I love them to bits. Hopefully, I gave them a bit of a laugh."
Former University of the West of England student Pete Reed, who learned to row on the waters of Bristol, will compete in the semi-finals of the men's coxless fours on Thursday after the Great Britain crew won their heat.
Reed, Andrew Triggs Hodge, Alex Gregory and Tom James were comfortable heat winners over Romania, Belarus and Czech Republic – and were the third fastest crew overall, behind Australia and Germany.