Audrey’s blog: Accepting defeat and resetting for the rest of 2021
This blog was written by Audrey Adiceom, offering insight into her life as an elite archer with the French national team.
If you’re a world-class athlete who is fortunate enough to participate in an Olympic sport, the ultimate dream – the holy grail of all – is an Olympic medal.
A little over a year ago, in February 2020, this dream began to take shape. I finished second in the Olympic selection process, allowing me to join the French national team that would attempt to win quota places for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
And then came COVID-19.
As I have explained in my previous blogs, I was very lucky to be able to continue training with my teammates and to recharge my batteries before returning to INSEP, the national sports centre in Paris, in July 2020.
A few months later, in January 2021, the first trials stage took place in Vittel. On the programme: a 72-arrow 70-metre ranking round, followed by a round consisting of 30 sets of three arrows – and then some elimination tournaments.
I clearly lost my means in the first qualification phase, which placed me quite low in the ranking from the very start.
I work a lot on my mental health with a psychologist and a mental coach. Unfortunately, all the tools I had developed over the past few years were not effective.
Using them in training is one thing. Validating them in competition is another.
The next few days were the longest of my life. I had a ball of frustration in my stomach, and I felt completely lost. I did a lot of soul-searching about my desires, the place of sport in my life, what I’m looking for and what I like about archery, where I am in my personal and professional life, and where I want to go.
This allowed me to reset, putting things into their rightful place in my mind.
At the beginning of March, the French Archery Federation set up a 10-day bubble for elite archers, bringing together all of the athlete still taking part in the selection process along with the national coaches. It would include the last phase of the trials process.
Everything went according to the rules in terms of health management. We were all very careful.
At the end of this bubble, the last two days of selections began. We were to shoot ranking rounds, match bracket tournaments and seven pool matches.
My level in qualifications was a little better than in the previous month but still only an average of 645 points. This did not allow me to move up in the ranking. It was thanks to the second day’s matches that I was able to sneak into fifth place. The final scores were really close from fourth to seventh.
Something very strong happened in the last few matches of the afternoon. At this points in the competition, it was impossible for me to come third and make the Olympic team. However, making the top six would make me part of the Olympic squad – and attend events like the European Grand Prix and some stages of the Hyundai Archery World Cup.
I had to perform at my best at the time to win the last three matches of the competition (quarters, semis and final). After all those days of doubts, questioning and apprehension, I had managed to activate the ‘warrior’ mode that I love so much, and I had only one idea in mind: to hit the maximum 10s.
Arrow after arrow between me and the target to reach the maximum score. My shooting was solid and my mind was in the moment.
I am not one of the three girls who will be going for an Olympic quota for Tokyo 2020. Still, it’s a great feeling to be part of the squad. I’m really going to do everything I can to make sure my contribution has a positive impact on the group.
If I have to put it in a nutshell, it is as if I have been in first class on the high-speed train to the Olympics in Tokyo for years, but since March I have been in second class.
I have two options.
The first would be to focus on the fact that I can no longer lower my seat to stretch out my legs and back, that I no longer have access to certain privileges, that the light is different and the windows are smaller.
But I prefer to opt for the latter: I focus on the fact that my train passes through Tokyo, doesn’t necessarily make a stop, but continues its journey to Paris 2024 and even Los Angeles 2028.
And now, what’s the plan for the rest of the season?
I went to the first two Grand Prix in Porec (635 points in qualification and 33rd after the matches) and Antalya (647 points and 17th in the end). There were a lot of good things to remember, even if the performance wasn't always there. It was really crazy to be able to shoot again at competitions and an international one in addition!
At the time of Porec, I realised how lucky I was to be there with the other international archers – to be able to take up archery where we had left off – whereas in France I was not allowed to go home to my parents (who do not live in the same region).
I live these international competitions to the fullest, savouring every detail: wearing the French team's jersey, seeing all of the targets lined up, setting up two bows, feeling the thrill of the arrows and experiencing all of the intense emotions that archery offers us.
I remain very motivated in training. I have a lot of mental, technical and physical points on which I want to progress.
At the moment, I am looking to produce solid and efficient shooting. With my coach, I was able to readjust certain technical points, allowing me to be more stable in contact and more precise on target. I continue to do weight training and cardio sessions with the centre’s trainer. This is the time of day to clear my head and strengthen my muscles.
As for my mental state, I work on it in training during confrontation situations and with my mental coach and psychologist.
I can say today that my fifth place in the national trials is not the end of my Olympic dream, but a step on the way to performance and fulfilment in my sport.
I am now heading to the Veronica’s Cup and the Hyundai Archery World Cup in Lausanne!
Content images courtesy of Audrey Adiceom.