France names recurve squad for start of outdoor season

Nicolas Bernardi on the French national team for 2023.

France has announced eight recurve archers to its international squad for the upcoming season.

Despite being led by 34-year-old Olympic medallist Jean-Charles Valladont, the men’s line-up is surprisingly inexperienced. Romain Fichet returns to the squad for the second consecutive year, with debutant Nicolas Bernardi and youngster Baptiste Addis completing the roster.

Addis made his first appearance on the Hyundai Archery World Cup last season in Paris at the age of 15.

Stalwarts Lisa Barbelin and Audrey Adiceom return to the French recurve women’s team for 2023. They’re joined by World Archery Youth Champion Caroline Lopez, 19, and 21-year-old Anaëlle Florent.

“There is a very nice group of smart, funny, hard-working girls, who are committed to the dream of the Olympic Games,” Adiceom said. “It’s a pleasure to share these moments with them.”

France already has a full six-archer quota for Paris 2024 as the host nation so there’s no immediate pressure on the line-up to win spots when the Olympic qualification period starts at the Hyundai World Archery Championships this summer. The spotlight will be intense, of course, when the Games themselves arrive next season.

One year after hiring former Korean head coach Oh Seon Tek, changes to the programme are apparent in the dramatic infusion of youth to the travelling team – and the way it was selected.

The French selection process mirrored that of Korea, starting six months ago during five days in September 2022 and steadily eliminating archers, again at a tournament in February, until just eight in each category remained for this final trial last week in St Avertin.

World number 13 Thomas Chirault, who was an Olympian in Tokyo, was an early casualty and didn’t make the last phase.

Pierre Plihon did – but ended the process ranked seventh. Melanie Gaubil and Melodie Richard, who was a team medallist with France at the last world championships in Yankton, finished fifth and seventh on the women’s list, respectively.

Their departures make room for new faces, like that of 20-year-old Bernardi.

“It’s a bit strange to be part of the national team, but it’s an incredible feeling,” he said. “The selections were long, but I was able to come out with some good improvements for the future. Now there is still work to do to get all these points right and prepare for the season ahead.”

The squad will compete at the European Grand Prix in Lilleshall in April, then at the first two stages of the Hyundai Archery World Cup in Antalya and Shanghai.

Line-ups for the French teams at the third stage, in Medellin in June, and the Hyundai World Archery Championships will come later.

Trials for the compound squad are scheduled to take place next week.

Header photo courtesy Nicolas Bernardi.

French recurve team for 2023

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