Ninth Olympics give ‘92 champ Seb Flute a chance to “close the loop”

Seb Flute shoots at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games.

Archery’s popularity in France skyrocketed when Seb Flute won the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona at 20 years old.

The country became – and has remained – one of the largest practising nations in Europe. Seb, meanwhile, has remained one of the most recognisable names in the sport having launched his own range of bows (twice) and appeared, in some capacity, at every Olympics since.

“It’s so intense, so different, so new,” the now-50-year-old said recently, recalling his Olympic win. “As soon as you shoot your last arrow, everybody comes and congratulates you.”

The Games in 1992 were the first to use head-to-head matchplay to decide the winner. Modern access control hadn’t quite made it to the Olympics yet and there was still a crowd behind the shooting line.

Moments after shooting his winning arrow, Flute was lifted onto the shoulders of French staff members in celebration.

“The podium was the first moment when you were all alone, quiet, when nobody asks you anything more,” he continued. “And then you start to think, and say to yourself…”

“‘Ah yes, there it is. I’ve won the competition. And the competition is the Olympics’.”

“I still get chills.”

Flute went back to the Olympics in 1996, when he lost in the first round, and then in 2000, when he made it to the quarterfinals before being eliminated by eventual bronze medallist Wietse van Alten.

The Brest native then retired from international competition and acted as an archery analyst for French television during the Games in 2004 and 2008.

Too much time spent watching others compete on screen had him back on the shooting line in 2009 with the goal of making the French team for London 2012. Despite winning the national championships in 2011, his comeback tour would fall just short – and Flute spent another Olympics holding a microphone.

For Rio 2016, he joined the French technical staff and saw Jean-Charles Valladont claim the country’s first individual medal (a silver) since Flute’s.

World Archery employed Seb for Tokyo 2020. He worked with the organising committee as the federation’s technical delegate, offering guidance in the lead-up and during a challenging Games delayed by the pandemic.

And for Paris 2024, the first home Olympics in his lifetime, it was announced in February that Flute will manage the archery competitions.

“We are really in the heart of Paris,” said Flute. The events will be held at Invalides, next to the Seines and close to many of Paris’ most recognisable landmarks. “It will also be special for me.”

“At 19 years old, I didn’t imagine that I would be 50 and still in archery,” he explained. “To end on this, I hope it will be a great feeling.”

“It’s a way to close the loop after all these years.”

Seb Flute at the Olympics

  • 1992: Olympic Champion in Barcelona
  • 1996: Eliminated by Martinus Grov in the first round
  • 2000: Makes quarterfinals but beaten by Wietse van Alten
  • 2004-2008: Commentates as an analyst for French television
  • 2012: Attempts comeback but ends up as commentator again
  • 2016: Joins French coaching staff as Jean-Charles Valladont wins silver
  • 2020: Works for World Archery as technical delegate
  • 2024: Named sports manager for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris