The dentist targeting windsurfing gold in Tokyo
Pierre le Coq might just be the coolest dentist in the world. When he is not fixing the teeth of his patients in his home town of Saint Brieuc in north west France, he can be found out on the waves off the Brittany coast, honing the windsurfing skills that have already seen him earn an Olympic medal.
Windsurfing and dentistry might seem like an unlikely combination, but it has proved a winning one for Le Coq. He already has two world titles to his name, as well as the RS:X bronze medal he earned at Rio 2016, where he overcame a “catastrophic start” to grind his way up the leaderboard and onto the podium.
Lying 17th after the initial stages of the competition, he needed a performance full of gritty determination and steely focus to turn things around. Indeed, as he explains, the dedication and attention to detail that are essential for his day job are also attributes that have helped him reach the top of his sport.
Hailing from a family of keen windsurfers, Le Coq first took up the sport at the age of 11, at his local club in Saint Brieuc (where he remains a member today). And he was quick to show a natural talent. By the age of 17 he had been crowned junior world champion, and he went on to claim a second world title the following year.
However, instead of taking the step up to the senior stage, the Frenchman pressed pause on his sporting ambitions in order to pursue his dentistry training, and spent the next few years completely immersed in his studies.
However, his ambitions to compete at the top level never faded, and once he had qualified as a dentist, he returned to the international windsurfing circuit.
“Getting back to the top level was difficult, but I never lost sight of my objectives,” he reflects.
Back on the medal trail
It wasn’t long before he was back on the medal trail, adding a World Cup bronze to his collection in 2012, and then a European championship bronze the following year. In 2014 he won his first World Cup event.
Finding the time to train and compete while maintaining a high-pressure career has certainly not been easy. Le Coq’s laid-back demeanour hides a military-style level of time management and commitment. But having had his first taste of Olympic success, the Frenchman now has his sights firmly set on winning gold at Tokyo 2020.
“Every time I look at my bronze medal from Rio I feel inspired,” says Le Coq. “I hope that I can improve the colour next time.”