France names recurve teams that will fight for Olympic quotas in 2021
France is one of the top-performing countries conspicuously missing from the list of nations that have secured quota places to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Although Jean-Charles Valladont finished with an individual silver five years ago in Rio, largely flat results at the first two qualifying events – the worlds and the relevant competitions at the 2019 European Games in Minsk – have left the French squad behind the pack – and, in an unexpected spot, still in the quota race.
“I’m not afraid,” said 23-year-old Thomas Chirault, who was recently named to the French team for 2021, having won the men’s national trials for the third consecutive year. “I’m on the way to my first-ever Olympic Games, even if the path is still long. I will have a chance to make my dreams come true.”
Valladont and Pierre Plihon complete the French recurve men’s line-up again for 2021, leaving it unchanged for the better part of four years. It’s also the same group that won team gold at the most-recent European Games. (The Olympic quotas available there were awarded in the individual and mixed team events.)
“We are a strong team that push each other to be better. We’ve known each other for a long time, and our friendship, and wish to accomplish something big in Tokyo, make us stronger,” he said. “We work hard every day to be ready for those critical moments. We are prepared for the qualification tournaments. Now that the team is formed, we can focus on this goal together.”
“The target is Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo,” said 20-year-old Barbelin, who had a breakout indoor season. “We will have to go and win the quotas and then look toward a medal at the Games.”
The French archers will compete to secure individual Olympic places – up to a maximum of one men’s and one women’s – at the European championships in Antalya at the end of May.
They will then have one last opportunity to qualify as teams at the third stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup, which is being held on home soil in Paris.
“It’s a big opportunity to have the last team qualification tournament in our beautiful city of Paris. It will be a real strength to shoot for the Olympic spots at home with our friends and families,” said Chirault.
“It will also be the first opportunity before the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris to show people how good the show will be. In these difficult times, it’s important to inspire people with hopes and dreams. This is what we’ll try to do.”
The technical director for the French elite squad, Benoit Binon, praised both Chirault and Barbelin’s performances during the selection process, saying it allowed some ambition for the season ahead. The duo recently shot together for The Golden Arrow team that finished second in the Indoor Archery World Series Finals.
Three of the six members of the top teams – Valladont, Plihon and Gaubil – shoot for Nimes, the club that also hosts a famous leg of the international indoor circuit.
France is expected to attend all three stages of the Hyundai Archery World Cup in 2021.
France’s recurve teams for 2021
Announced by the French federation on 11 March 2021.
- Thomas Chirault, Clermont-Ferrard
- Jean-Charles Valladont, Nimes
- Pierre Plihon, Nimes
- Romain Fichet, Riom (attending first stage of World Cup)
- Clement Jacquey, Belfort (attending second stage of World Cup)
- Lucas Daniel, Rennes (attending world ranking events)
- Lisa Barbelin, Riom
- Angeline Cohendet, Brignais
- Melanie Gaubil, Nimes
- Laurena Villard, Issy-les-Moulineaux (attending first stage of World Cup)
- Audrey Adiceom, Riom (attending second stage of World Cup)
- Anaelle Florent, Challans (attending world ranking events)