French prodigy Baptiste Addis in unlikely bid for Paris
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The Frenchman, who turned 17 on 7 December 2023, entered last season with the ambition of making an impact at the youth level, with the long-term goal of being in Los Angeles in 2028.
However, in the months since, everything has accelerated at a rapid rate, to the point that the youngster from Manduel in the south of France is down to the final six male archers competing for three spots in Paris.
It has been a whirlwind journey, with Addis going from a 14-year-old spectator at a local stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup, the first of a run of major events held in Paris, to competing in the same event 12 months later – after his talent was spotted by French head coach Seon Tek Oh.
“It went very quickly,” he said. “I was in Compiègne, my first Pôle Espoirs [the lowest level training centre in French archery] and I went to see the World Cup in Paris, to see how it worked.”
“That is when I started to understand the top level. I then did one year in Bordeaux at Pôle France [the next level up], it all accelerated there.”
He worked through youth events that winter and then in the summer, he found himself in the senior team.
“I went to watch the World Cup in Paris and a year later, I was competing in it,” he said.
Since that first senior opportunity, Addis’ momentum only increased. From Bordeaux, he moved to INSEP – France’s National Institute of Sport, Expertise and Performance – getting a chance to train alongside the country’s top senior athletes.
The next stage of Olympic selection will come in January, with the six men and six women set to be whittled down to four apiece to compete on the international circuit in 2024, before one further male and female archer is cut before Paris.
Addis is beginning to dream of competing at the Olympics on home soil, an idea that would have seemed preposterous even 18 months ago.
“It’s difficult because the year I spent in Bordeaux, I was there thinking I was just doing junior competitions,” explained Addis, who cites current world number one Marcus D’Almeida as one of his most inspiring opponents.
“My objectives were 2028, but when you’re young, 2028 seems so far away.”
The move to INSEP, to prepare for the Paris Games, meant a change in mindset was required.
“It was a bit hard to come to terms with but now I’m focused on Paris, I’m giving everything and it will accelerate my career,” said.
And even if this work doesn’t pay off immediately – Addis has to, already, be a favourite to represent France in Los Angeles.
“So it’s a bonus but if I go to Paris, I will give it everything in the individual,” the 17-year-old added. “We are a sport where you have to take your chances, so if there is the possibility of going and winning a medal because I’ve shot well, I’ll go for it.”
Experience, in elite sport, is key.
“I’d also like to see how the Olympics works as well, and then hopefully that will also help me for 2028.”
Addis first picked up the sport as a five-year-old in Manduel, near Nimes. For a youngster who loved all sports, there was something about the internal competition in archery that really appealed.
The mental challenge is what Addis most enjoys, seeking perfection in training and then executing when it comes to competition.
But his success has also meant sacrifices, not least leaving home earlier than most.
“It was not easy for my parents,” he explained. “They have always supported me. I kind of see it as if I turned 18 or 19 a bit early.”
At that age, you head off to study and away from your family. It just happened two years earlier.
“I still get to see my parents, it’s not easy for them to see their son go away and not see me as much. But they are proud of me from a distance so it’s cool.”
With the possibility of cheering on their teenage son at Paris 2024 edging closer to reality, that sense of pride is on track to increase exponentially.