Portrait of Gaëlle Edon, the para-shooting champion supported by Banque Palatine via the Performance Pact

Friday, 25 march 2022

Bronze medalist in the European Championships in pistol shooting and 4th in precision shooting, Gaëlle talks about her career and her sporting discipline

In this interview, the former mountain rescuer talks about para shooting, a sporting discipline that enabled her to overcome her accident and her physical and mental ordeal: “a revenge against what happened to me.” She’s 33 years old and currently studying for a Master’s degree in criminal law.

  • When you were young, it seems you weren’t particularly interested in competitions…

Gaëlle Edon: That’s right. I wasn’t brought up to be competitive in that way. I didn’t take part in any competitions and did high mountain climbing for sheer pleasure.

  • And it was after your accident that you became interested in competitions?

Yes, I became hemiplegic when I was 24 after an accident at work. I threw myself into sport body and soul to avoid getting depressed and to find other goals in life… I started with athletics and then my mother, who wanted to get me out of the rehabilitation center, took me to a para-rowing discovery event…. and I really enjoyed it! But it was difficult to do because rowing independently with only one arm was impossible. So I designed and developed a system to make this possible, and won a 1st prize for innovation in 2016. We then went on to patent this system and set up an association called La pelle tenace (or ‘The stubborn shovel’) that subsequently obtained the ‘Project Impact 2024’ label. We’re currently trying to make this solution available to a wider public and to make rowing accessible to people with upper-limb disabilities and enable them to be autonomous on the water. This concerns upper-limb amputees but also women recovering from breast cancer who are often left with a weak arm.

  • So how did you end up doing para shooting?

The person in charge of handisport in my local département noticed that I was quite dynamic and suggested that I try shooting. And I took to it immediately! At first, it clashed with my timetable because I wanted to continue with my studies but, in the end, the university couldn’t take me so I began shooting… and that was the beginning of a wonderful relationship!

  • What do you like about this discipline?

The fact of taking up para shooting after my accident enabled me to overcome all the issues related to my accident: my disability and the subsequent legal proceedings, which haven’t been resolved yet and are very difficult to face and support psychologically. Shooting helps me to accept these different issues. And as I have a ‘live wire’ personality, the fact of having to focus on the here-and-now when I shoot the pistol calms me down a lot…

  • It seems paradoxical: you’re a highly energetic person, a ‘live wire’ as you say, and you practice a sport where you have to demonstrate enormous serenity, an imperturbable calm?

Yes, nobody understands this and neither do I. I have to do other sports on the side just to let off steam. The fact of aiming and taking a shot calms me down; it has a soothing effect on me whereas when I do less ‘refined’ sports, I give free rein to the rage I feel about everything that’s happened to me…

  • What’s difficult about para shooting?

You have to clear your mind of everything. You have to immerse yourself in a self-contained bubble like a fish… It’s the same feeling you have when you’re mountain climbing and find yourself on a very difficult stretch when you have to be totally focused on your movements to the exclusion of everything else. The pistol becomes an extension of my own body.

In 10-meter precision shooting, you have one hour and 15 minutes to shoot 60 pellets and every pellet counts. In standard 10-meter pistol shooting, you have to shoot 8 rounds of 5 pellets, and complete each of the rounds in just 10 seconds.

  • So you have become extremely competitive…

Yes! Competing is my revenge on life, my struggle against what happened to me… So I ended up as a competitive person, and I love the fact of pushing myself to my limits…

  • Pushing yourself to your limits in a static discipline…

Yes, but a discipline that burns up immense reserves of energy. I am more tired after 2 hours of shooting than after a trek in the mountains. You have to seek your inner strength… In fact, the need to focus intensely is extremely physical; it makes you lose weight… When you obtain the result you’re after, you feel incredibly tired and this tiredness hits you after the event… You’re absolutely exhausted! It’s a really great sport!   

Groupe BPCE, to which Banque Palatine belongs, is a Premium Partner of the Olympic & Paralympic Games Paris 2024. The fact of supporting and accompanying elite French athletes – whether confirmed or aspiring, disabled or able-bodied – is a major ambition of Groupe BPCE within the context of the games. For Gaëlle, the support provided by Banque Palatine is very important on a number of levels: the support given to her by the employees and the financial support that allows her to buy the equipment she needs to improve her performance.

“We share the same flame”