Nicolas Rifaut named new head coach of Belgian archery team

Nicolas Rifaut giving instruction to Belgian archer.

Nicolas Rifaut has been hired by the Belgium archery federation as head coach of its Olympic programme. He replaces Wietse van Alten, who resigned earlier this summer and left after the Hyundai World Archery Championships in Berlin.

The Frenchman previously worked for his own country’s national squad.

“In my view, this new position is not just a coaching position for the Belgian elite,” said Rifaut. “It also requires the creation of a more ambitious system of access to the top level and, of course, greater teamwork with the national coaches who will train the champions of tomorrow.”

There’s a strong commitment to work with both Wallonia and Flanders the two regions of Belgium – to grow the programme.

“The goal is that by 2028, Belgium will be among the top 15 nations in the world,” said Rifaut. “It’s an arduous task, but the mentality and passion of the archers will be key assets in this new foundation.”

In his new role, Nicolas will primarily be based at the Olympic training centre in Herentals.

Belgium team posing with new head coach Nicolas Rifat (centre).

Rifaut began his Olympic coaching career as an assistant to Marc Dellenbach, the former coach of the French and German national teams who was recently appointed as head coach at the World Archery Excellence Centre. He was then put in charge of the French youth squads and then the French Olympic team.

He has recently worked with former Korean import Oh Seon Tek, who joined the French archery federation in early 2022, as well as on projects developing archery in the French Caribbean and creating an elite coaching diploma in France.

He was regularly with coaches from nearly 20 different countries, including leading names in the coaching community such as Ergin Goktug (Türkiye), Ki Sik Lee (USA), Richard Priestman (Israel) and Ryu Su Jeng (Korea).

This, however, marks the 39-year-old’s first permanent position abroad.

“It’s a real challenge for me because the French archery federation has always been my family and I owe it a lot,” said Nicolas. “But the proximity of Belgium and the interest of a global project convinced me.”

While the qualification period for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games has just begun, the Belgian federation’s Olympic programme has its sights set primarily on LA2028, offering its new head coach a little more time to achieve success.

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