Audrey’s blog: Committed to supporting causes close to our hearts

Lisa, Audrey and the participants on 31 May 2023.

This blog was written by Audrey Adiceom, offering insight into her life as an elite archer with the French national team.

With my sister of heart Lisa Barbelin, we welcomed some 15 women who have suffered from cancer at INSEP, the national sports centre in Paris, on 31 May 2023.

These women are supported by Skin, an association that helps women and men in remission to rebuild themselves through art and sport.

The idea came to us last autumn during the annual ‘Pink October’ movement. It’s the month of the year when awareness of screening for female cancers, such as breast and uterine cancer, is at its highest. It’s the time when everyone on social networks is sharing and reposting posts on the subject.

Timothée Adolphe, a blind French Paralympic medallist in athletics, posted a video clip on his networks he had made with a woman in remission from cancer. It was Skin that brought them together.

Founded in 2012 in Paris, Skin aims at creating pairs with people in remission from cancer and top-level athletes or artists, to make a collaboration in the form of artworks or performances.

The association also offers workshops for its members.

I suggested to Lisa that we do something different.

What if we did something that could be useful for these women?

Sharing posts on Instagram or Facebook is all well and good, but as archers in the French team, couldn’t we do more?

So Lisa and I started looking for ideas of activities and projects.

At the end of October, we got in touch with the association’s founder and president Cécile Reboul to whom we presented ourselves like this:

‘We are two sportswomen, members of the French archery team, and we’re keen to support causes that are close to our hearts. And so we want to work with you.’

Round-table with Lisa and Audrey on Skin association day.

Our project took shape mid-November with the idea to offer a day in two parts, starting with an introduction to the sport, and then moving to a round-table discussion.

Those taking part would also be offered a ticket to watch the Hyundai Archery World Cup in Paris at the Stade Charléty in August.

Lisa and I put it on hold for a few months, though, to concentrate on our national trials.

After the first stage in September, the second and third were just around the corner at the end of February and mid-March. We finished first and second of the selection process, which allowed us to take part in the Lilleshall Grand Prix and the first two stages of the World Cup in Antalya and Shanghai.

After that we received the agreement of the national technical director, the head coach and our coach to organise that famous day on 31 May.

The INSEP also approved the project, allowing members of the Skin association to access the site and stay for the afternoon.

Audrey and Lisa introducing the sport and showing their skills.

It’s finally 31 May.

We’ve set up short-range targets and prepared bows for beginners at the Sébastien Flute centre at INSEP. There are snacks and drinks available, and the weather is fine all the ingredients to make this day a success.

We start with a one-hour introductory session, beginning with the technical basics and ending with short team games. Lisa and I then shoot a few arrows at 70 metres, giving a demo while answering questions. The participants are very curious about the mechanics of the bow and how our training sessions work.

We then move on to the round-table discussion covering a wide range of subjects. At the start, the focus is on Lisa and me, our Olympic project, and reconciling our training and professional projects.

We also talk about shared values, including surpassing ourselves, managing difficult moments and the encounters that are guiding us.

The bridge between our two worlds appears to be cardiac coherence, a breathing technique used to help us improve our management of emotions our lucidity and our concentration. These women explain how they have been using this technique during and after cancer.

They spoke from the heart and it was really beautiful. I was very moved by that moment.

Participants having a go at shooting arrows.

Today, I train every day because I dream of medals at the Olympic Games and international competitions. I’m lucky enough to be an INSEP resident, surrounded by people whose achievements in their sport are truly inspiring, who are passionate and who have a taste for effort and hard work.

So yes, these people are impressive, but they are also others outside this palace of French sports.

The women we met are ‘heroines of everyday life’, as Lisa puts it.

I loved spending the afternoon with them, introducing them to our sport, introducing them about our sport and teaching them about it.

But above all, it was so great to point out our shared values: the sharing, the smiles, the pleasure of doing an activity together.

These women told us that in the remission phase of cancer their perception of things had changed. 

Enjoy the final result is good, but enjoy the process is even better. It’s the idea of realising I’m doing something and I’m enjoying the moment; the pleasure of being there, of being with people you love, of learning, of progressing, of daring to do things.

I’m going to remember this afternoon for a long time because it addressed so many subjects and values that are close to my heart.

These women were really touching. They have faith in life. 

A group of inspiring women.

I’d like to thank the association for agreeing to collaborate with us on this project, Lisa for wanting to experience something a little different, and the French archery association and INSEP for following us in our ambition.

It’s important for me to feel that we can create projects that make sense.

I follow a lot of athletes on social these days, who through their Olympic medals manage to shine a light on worthy causes.

I don’t have an Olympic medal (yet), but I’m happy to promote sport and sporting values in other ways.

I’m incredibly grateful for this moment. It was beautiful.

Lisa and I were dreaming of sharing a moment with these inspiring women.

Images courtesy French archery federation.