Audrey’s blog: Living the Olympic dream from afar
This blog was written by Audrey Adiceom, offering insight into her life as an elite archer with the French national team.
As the fifth archer for the French national team following a selection process that whittled the women’s recurve line-up down to four, I did not attend the Antalya 2021 European Championships at the beginning of June.
Instead, I used the time to train at France’s National Institute of Sport, Expertise and Performance (INSEP) and reinforce some things with my technique, including the solidity of my movements and shooting.
I was still, however, invested in my team’s success – especially because the event doubled as a continental Olympic qualifying tournament.
I had to leave my phone inside so I wouldn’t be tempted to check the results during my training!
Watching from a distance didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for my teammates. I did my best to encourage everyone in Antalya, especially the recurve women’s team, with whom we share a group on WhatsApp, cheering for them from afar.
While I was obviously disappointed not to be able to compete – this is not what I dreamed of at the beginning of the year – my job was to avoid viewing the situation as a punishment and instead think of it as an opportunity to progress for the future.
I took advantage of the time off to enjoy myself after a taxing competition schedule, and it felt really good. I went with my boyfriend and sister to Étretat, where the weather was nice, the scenery was beautiful and the views were breathtaking.
Putting down my bow and changing from sportswear to street clothes was a real treat.
While my teammates stressed over their performances in Antalya, I was able to relax. It felt good. It helped me take a step back and put things in their place.
I was also able to visit my home in Riom, in the centre of France, to see my parents and friends from the archery club. I’m very committed to my club, Les Archers Riomois. They are like a second family to me. They saw me grow up and evolve towards the top level. It is always very refreshing to spend time with them.
Even as a supporter, the qualifying tournament was very intense. I was super stressed! I felt as if I was the one shooting, as my body had imprinted that this was an important date. I struggled to do anything constructive, tidying the bedroom that I hadn’t seen for two years.
I refreshed the online results every two minutes to follow my French friends. How stressful! I was talking to myself in my room. ‘Ah, yes! It’s still going!’ ‘Oh, great, good set!’ ‘Well, come on now, don’t give up, it’s still in play!’
From the quarterfinals on, I was able to follow the tournament on YouTube.
I watched part of it while at a restaurant with my mum. I can tell you that it’s rare that something is more important to me than finishing a crepe!
It was Melanie [Gaubil] that shot first. She had the look of a warrior… you could feel her in combat. I felt that she had given her all, but this rule of one quota per country is very hard. I was sad for my friend, but I was sure that she would be able to get back on track for Paris and the team qualifier.
Lisa [Barbelin] shot as she has since the beginning of the season: brilliantly.
My heart was beating a mile a minute watching her. How beautiful it was. Archery as we love it. It was very inspiring.
Winning this quota means a lot to her, of course, but also to all of the archers who support France. I felt like I was on a cloud. I was so proud of her. Lisa is such a hard worker, with a glowing mindset.
In the afternoon, I went to the club, where everyone was following the men’s results. There was some relief to see two Frenchmen in the final four. Jean Charles [Valladont] did well. It was really good to see. Thomas Chirault was impressive as well, but it wasn’t enough against Mete Gazoz.
That night, I was proud of the archers, proud of my friends and happy for France.
On Sunday, on the way back in the minibus, we cheered for Lisa as she shot for the gold final. I’m not sure if she heard us, but we felt like we were with her.
To prepare for stage three of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Paris, I focused the rest of my training on the search for performance a little further and the automation of the parts of my technique that I had been working on.
I was able to go and train for a day with the archers of the Olympic squad who were in a sanitary bubble in Sologne (two hours south of Paris).
The goal for me was to compete in head-to-head matches, but also to see my friends again. It was short but great. I really enjoyed spending time with them and chatting with the girls.
Finally, I enjoyed my last relaxation weekend in Nevers with my family. We played board games, table tennis, BBQ and experienced true happiness. It was the kind of weekend where you go home on Sunday evening with a smile on your face and remember the good times we had together.
Heading to Paris, the training was going quite well, and I felt that my shooting could be very solid. This proved to be the case, as we got bronze on home soil with Lisa and Angeline [Cohendet].
I can’t wait to support my French teammates when they are in Tokyo!
Content images courtesy of Audrey Adiceom.