Thomas Chirault © François Le Guen

Thomas Chirault

Archer and engineering student at Polytech Sorbonne

"The Olympics is what I train for every day.”

Thirteenth best archer in the world, with three gold, two silver and two bronze medals. So much for the numbers. Thomas Chirault, a top-level athlete and 4th-year engineering student at Polytech Sorbonne, is more motivated than ever to reach the top step of the podium at the forthcoming Paris Olympic Games.

How did your passion for archery come about?
Thomas Chirault
: It all goes back to 2009, when I was about 12 or 13. I went to the same school as my cousin in Picardy, near Amiens. After school, we used to drive home together. One day, as I was leaving class, I accompanied him to his archery session and took the opportunity to try it out. It was a revelation, and I was hooked! At the time, I was looking for a sport to get involved in. I'd tried soccer, judo and even roller field hockey, but it hadn't clicked as much as archery.

What are you currently studying?
I'm studying for a degree in materials engineering at Polytech Sorbonne. I became interested in this course of study during my baccalaureate year, when I had to choose my studies. I had no clear idea of what I wanted to do, except that I liked science. Then one day, I got a physics and chemistry practical on nanomaterials that I really liked, and I decided to go into that field. Initially, I wanted to do a preparatory course for an engineering school, but that was incompatible with my sporting career. So I started by doing a degree in chemistry at the Faculty of Science and Engineering, and then took a second-year transfer to be admitted to Polytech Sorbonne.

Right now, I'm not sure what I'm going to do after graduation. I'm waiting for my last classes to make up my mind.

How do you reconcile your studies with top-level sport?
With a lot of organization and motivation! Each semester I meet with my academic instrutor to decide which classes I have to follow depending on my sport constraints. It’s a bit of a basis for organizing my weeks and days in the long term.
Thanks to Sorbonne University's support system, I'm lucky enough to be able to reorganize my courses and, for example, retake exams when I'm absent due to training or competition. It also enables me to split my years. In concrete terms, I do half a school year per year. At Polytech, I did my first years of undergraduate studies in four years, for example.
I've also benefited from the support of the Sorbonne University Foundation via the Passport for the Olympics scholarship scheme supported by Crédit Agricole d'Ile-de-France Mécénat.

What do the Paris Olympic Games mean to you?
The Olympics are every sportsman's dream! I was lucky enough to take part in the Tokyo Games for the first time, and it was incredible. It was a unique adventure, which I can't wait to relive, especially as the next ones are in Paris, "at home", where my family and friends will be, and the atmosphere will be even more magical than in Tokyo, and less oppressive without the sanitary conditions associated with Covid. The Olympics are why I train every day, why I've invested so much time and effort in this sport.

How are you preparing?
Basically, I train two days a week, five times a week, but since September, the pace has quickened. It's very intense. You have to remember that in archery, if you take too long a break - after three days - you quickly lose the specific, fine gestures that need constant repetition. So you can't afford to drop in intensity.

What are your goals for the Olympics?
T.C.: I'm aiming for gold, of course! A podium finish in front of the French public would also be very nice.  

Do you have a lucky charm that you take with you to competitions?
I'm not superstitious. However, before each tournament, I practice positive thinking. I imagine myself winning the event, I project myself by shooting the decisive arrow. I prepare my head and body to be more confident and put myself in the best possible frame of mind. I convince myself that I can do it

What is your most vivid memory of a competition?
It's a memory that goes back to the team qualifying period for the Tokyo Games.  The last qualifying tournament held in Paris came late, and right up until the last moment, we didn't have our place to go to the Tokyo Olympics as a team. It was a bit like a last-chance tournament. The moment of the last match for third place was decisive, and we won it in the most beautiful way in front of all our supporters. It was magical!

Photographie © François Le Guen

Palmarès notable


  • Silver medal - European Grand Prix
  • Gold medal - French Elite Championship


  • Bronze medal - Paris World Cup team event


  • Gold medal - European Team Games    


  • Bronze medal - World Cup
  • Silver medal - European Team Championships (mixed)
  • Gold medal - European Junior Team Championships   


  • Silver medal - World Team Championships
  • Gold medal - Team World Cup