Sophie Dodemont still going strong late into career

Sophie Dodemont shoots at the world championships in 2021.

More than once, Sophie Dodemont has tried walking away from archery, only to be pulled back in. 

“Whenever I stop, I always want to come back,” the 48-year-old Frenchwoman said. “I miss the rush of competitions and shooting for medals. It makes me feel alive.”

The sport has been a constant presence in her life for the better part of four decades, first as a recurve archer before a late-period switch to the compound discipline.

Dodemont was the oldest archer in Russia at the Moscow 2019 Hyundai Archery World Cup Final, where she also took bronze, to reach her first podium at the season-ending event.

Two years on and she is still a formidable presence on the international circuit, guiding France to a bronze medal in the compound women’s team event at the 2021 Hyundai World Archery Championships in Yankton.

“Still shooting at a high level, it’s something that I’m really proud of,” Dodemont said. “To still be among the top archers after so many years is a really great honour for me.”

Sophie Dodemont celebrates at the Moscow 2019 Hyundai Archery World Cup Final.

Dodemont’s proficiency when competing with both bowstyles speaks to her natural ability and willingness to adapt to the varying demands of the sport.

She won a team bronze medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games but has been perhaps even more successful since switching to compound after failing to make the French team for the 2012 Olympics in London

The key to her success, Dodemont said, has been an aptitude for synthesizing her talent, experience and expertise into results that have continued late into her career.

She has also, crucially, maintained a competitive drive that continues to burn strong as she approaches 50.

A 10-year hiatus from the world stage might have suggested the end for the former world number three, but she could only stay away for so long. 

“I wanted to prove to myself that I can do more and win more medals,” Dodemont said. “I really love competing.”

Sophie Dodemont celebrates at the Antalya 2021 European Championships.

Throughout her career, Dodemont has grasped, both intuitively and analytically, how to remain competitive as the gulf in age between her and her peers has widened.

That was certainly true earlier this year, when France beat the Netherlands to win the 2021 European Championships and improve on its bronze medal at stage two of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Lausanne. 

“It’s an honour because I have maybe one of the greatest teammates I can have,” said 21-year-old Lola Grandjean, who made her debut with the senior squad in Lausanne.

“I remember seeing her in magazines when I was a child. I started archery at six years old and she was still an archer, and now we are shooting and winning together. She’s the goat.”

‘Goat’, for those who don’t know, isn’t a suggestion that Dodemont is a capra hircus but that Lola considers her the ‘Greatest of All Time’.

It’s a sentiment that Dodement, who’s zeal for reminiscing leans towards indifference, is likely to shrug off with a smile.

“It’s really hard to say goodbye,” she said. “That’s why I’m still here.”