Full circle: Musy sisters living the Olympics as volunteers for Paris

Frédérique and Corinne Musy volunteering at the Paris 2023 Hyundai Archery World Cup.

Corinne and Frédérique Musy received confirmation earlier this year that they would be living the Olympic dream from the inside.

The sisters will officiate at Les Invalides for the archery events at Paris 2024 from 25 July to 4 August, a fine reward for two well-known faces in the world of French archery, a sport that has long been part of their lives.

Lively blue eyes, an aquiline nose, a frank smile always on their face: the resemblance is striking.

Corinne was an archer on the French team.

Frédérique was first an archer at the national level before supervising the French national squads across disciplines for more than 25 years.

Their father, Maurice Musy, was a Paralympic team silver medallist at Tokyo 1964.

With the Olympics returning to France for the first time in a century, the endearing Musy sisters will add to their sporting legacy – a journey that began at a young age in Dole, in the French Jura.

Corinne Musy with a picture of her father Maurice Musy, Paralympic Champion in 1968.

Aged three and two, Corinne and Frédérique’s father had a car accident, leaving him paraplegic.

“During his rehabilitation in Fontainebleau, he was taught to do archery because it was a sport that allowed impaired people to regain the sensation of their body in space,” explains Corinne.

“As he was originally a judoka, he had physical abilities and he recovered everything he could,” adds Frédérique.

Maurice was selected for the Tokyo 1964 Paralympics three years after his accident.

He won a team silver medal that summer in Japan, went on to compete in a second Paralympics four years later in Tel Aviv and practised archery until his last days. 

The Musy sisters have been immersed in that world ever since.

“It’s part of our genes, so to speak,” confides Frédérique. “We’ve always known this: On Sunday, we go to training, we go to archery.”

Corinne remembers the little bows their parents bought and that were a little too hard for the two girls to shoot: a green one for her and a yellow one for her sister.

Corinne Musy at an international competition in the Netherlands.

Trained as teenagers by their father, they both took part in the French youth championships – but subsequently took different paths. While Frédérique was drawn by coaching, Corinne joined the French team from 1982 to 1991, “with honest results, she says.

She trained at INSEP, the national sports centre in Paris, and competed internationally.

There was no Archery World Cup at the time, but there were still event circuits, such as the Coq France or the Casque d’Or, with mainly European teams participating. Named in the French team for the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, Corinne Musy saw her Olympic dream disappear.

The reason? Money.

The sports ministry had no budget for athletes who did not necessarily have the potential for a medal,” she explained. “No one really had the level to be on the podium, except for the team. So three boys, who had done the minimum scores, went there.

As an athlete, it marks you for life.

When she retired from the French team in 1991, Corinne stopped shooting completely. (Except for fun, every now and again, with her sister.)

“I preferred to cut practice, rather than continuing as a tourist,” she says. “And follow the elite on the other side of the line.”

Corinne and Frédérique Musy in front of the Esplanade des Invalides.

Frédérique had became a regional technical coordinator, finding happiness in knowledge sharing.

As junior team coach, then assistant to national coach Benoît Dupin who would later become national technical director she lived the Olympic dream through the prowess of her former pupils.

Individual silver medallist at the Rio 2016 Olympics and three-time Olympian, Jean-Charles Valladont was in her regional team in Franche-Comté and did his first year of Pole France in Dijon, the same year she arrived there.

“He came into my hands, and it was really interesting to train a guy like that, because there were already the beginnings of what he was going to become,Frédérique recalls. “His way of being, which allowed him to protect himself a little and last so long.

When Valladont won his silver medal in Brazil, the atmosphere was festive in the Musy family.

“We opened a bottle,” Corinne confides with sparkling eyes.

“I was proud to have participated even a little, in one way or another,” adds Frédérique.

“I told everyone,” Corinne replies in a laughing tone. “Even people who weren’t into archery at all!”

“And Jean-Charles was talking about the fact that he idolised dad,” her sister recalls. “He remembers our father, he admired him. He told me that when he was a kid.”

It’s great, and it makes you want to continue, to encourage young people to take up archery.

Frédérique Musy receiving the insignia of Knight in the National Order of Merit from JC Valladont.

Now retired, and after receiving the insignia of Knight in the National Order of Merit from the hands of JC Valladont himself, Frédérique Musy now embraces volunteering.

It keeps intact the bond that unites her to her sister, and both of them to archery.

“It was moving for me to see her retire,” says Corinne. “We shared that for a very long time, me as an athlete, with our father…”

“It’s always been part of our lives, and it's something we will always have.

Although they each have a partner, they both took 10 days to come and volunteer at the Olympic test event Paris last summer.

Posted near the stairs leading to the official stand of the magnificent shooting range set up for the tournament, which was also a stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup, these two women are no ordinary volunteers.

“We had a great week,” says Frédérique. “We were sent to the airports for the arrivals of the delegations.”

“It wasn’t always very fun, we had the train blocked at the beginning and at the end… but we did well and we had a good laugh in the end.”

The volunteers know something even bigger is coming in 2024 – and that fosters a unique camaraderie.

“We like that spirit of all helping each other,” says Corinne. 

Maurice Musy in official French Paralympic team uniform at the 1964 Games.

Corinne and Frédérique Musy, the two sisters whose entire life has been marked by archery, will be in Paris again next summer, but this time as volunteers for the Olympics.

“Being part of these Games is a source of total pride,” says Frédérique, who was six years old when her father returned from the 1964 Paralympics. It marked me, it marked us, for life. We have always been passionate about the Games.

We’ve been immersed in it, since we were little,” Corinne adds. “It will be an accomplishment for us to be part of it.”

“Being a volunteer at the Olympic Games will mix all kinds of feelings: get back into archery, meet old friends, discover new archers…”

The two Musy sisters cannot help but note the symbolism, almost poetic, of the world’s pinnacle sporting event coming to France.

“It will mean participating in the Olympic Games,” explains Corinne. “What I couldn’t do as an athlete. So really living the Olympic adventure from the inside.”

“And by adding the Paralympic Games,” adds Frédérique. “We’ll come full circle: 1964-2024. That's something, isn’t it!”

Some images courtesy of Corinne/Frédérique Musy and the French archery federation.