A triple bronze and silver medalist at the latest world championships (2022) and a silver medalist at Tokyo 2020, Faustine Noël, a para-badminton champion supported by Natixis TradEx Solutions (a subsidiary of Natixis Investment Managers), is dreaming of the Paralympic Games Paris 2024.
Passionate about badminton since the age of 10 but suffering from a neuromotor disorder, she has managed to rise to each new challenge with the support of a single motto: “Enjoy yourself!”
Faustine opens herself to us, relating the journey she has made so far with all its surprises, moments of pride, moments of doubt, and her crowning achievements.
Encounter with “her” sport
Faustine discovered badminton with her family. For her, the sport’s greatest attraction is the fact that it calls for a wide range of automatic reflexes. She adopted it wholeheartedly because of the sheer fun of the game: one racket, one shuttlecock, and a concept she thoroughly enjoyed. Later, she tried her hand at other sports: “When you’re disabled, it's not always easy to have the courage to do a lot of different sports, because you face certain difficulties when you're starting out."
Today, she has found the confidence she needs to “stay with badminton.”
Her passion for the Olympics began to develop after playing badminton for ten years. She was already a whole-hearted devotee of this para-sport when she heard that badminton was being adopted as a Paralympic discipline. She decided to jump at the opportunity: “Before, I was a quiet little competitor at home, without much training, but when I learned that badminton was entering the Paralympics, I really decided to go all out for it at the highest level.” Like catching a ball on the rebound or a shuttlecock in mid-air, she set in motion the process that would enable her to make this project the center of her existence. It's a radical change in my life style but, above all, “an experience you enjoy at first hand: I couldn't do this in 30 years' time, it was now or never!”
Well aware that badminton would one day come to an end for her at this level of competition, she decided to prepare for this inevitable moment and devote her time to another of her passions that would provide her with a backup plan when the time came: physiotherapy, which she was studying at the IFPEC training institute in Rennes. Her schedule is a real patchwork of activities: two to four hours of badminton training per day on top of her classes. To achieve this, she is splitting her academic years and counting on the support of a highly attentive teaching team.
The quest for a balanced life
“I may have had the experience of Tokyo 2020,” says Faustine, “but it still feels like the first time. These Games will be at home, and that's something I've never experienced. Then there'll be my family, my circle of friends and acquaintances... and just plain people supporting us!”
She is also preparing herself to keep a cool head in the face of the many demands and outside pressure lying ahead. Her dream? To qualify in order to experience the Paralympic Games Paris 2024 at first hand: “My dreams are stronger than my doubts,” she tells us. “Doubts are just work in progress leading up to a subsequent performance, because nothing is decided yet,” she says.
Between pressure and emotion, Faustine has had to learn how to find a balance; on coming home from Tokyo 2020, she admits to suffering a burn-out and being afraid of losing her desire to go back to training. She had to stop completely to regain her motivation on the courts.
This explains the importance of high quality support both on and off the badminton court, especially in terms of emotional management given that Faustine's disability increases under pressure, irrespective of whether the pressure is positive or negative. This help is consequently essential for her to fully appreciate her socio-professional environment.
The support provided by her sponsor, Natixis TradEx Solutions (a subsidiary of Natixis Investment Managers), is also an invaluable asset, both in sporting and human terms. “Above all, it gives me peace of mind; it's both moral support and material assistance. I don't have to work on the side to make ends meet... I can focus my energy elsewhere and make the most of my opportunities. And on a human level, I've done some work at Natixis, which is something that I really enjoy because they’re true moments of exchange.”
When asked about her biggest flaw, Faustine admits to being stubborn at times! Her greatest quality? She's learned to change her opinion thanks to her open-mindedness, her ability to listen and to put herself in the place of her potential naysayers. She keeps her ultimate dream in mind: “By 2024, I'd like to be ready and performing well!" while simultaneously following her mantra: "Enjoy yourself", a motto that allows her to give off pressure and not lose herself in the quest for excellence.