Olympic windsurfer Pierre le Coq works as a dentist in his home town in north-west France
His dual career is helping him pursue his ambition of improving on his bronze medal in Tokyo in 2020
Watch his story in the video and then explore Athlete365’s free-to-use Career+ resources
Having grown up on the north coast of France and coming from a family of keen windsurfers, perhaps it’s no surprise that Pierre found himself on the water. After joining his local windsurfing club aged 11, by the age of 17, he had been crowned junior world champion.
He went on to win an Olympic medal in Rio. Significantly, though, he took an unlikely path to get there, putting his sporting career on hold to study to become a dentist.
“The feeling of being on a windsurf is exceptional. You feel free,” reflects Pierre. “But it’s difficult to make a decent living from windsurfing, so I think it’s important to have other opportunities.
“My parents kind of guided my choice, because they were both dentists and their passion was infectious. It wasn’t an easy choice because studying dentistry takes a long time, it’s complicated. I had to stop practising high-level sports for a few years.“
Temporarily turning his attention away from his sport was a tough decision, but it’s one that seems to have paid off, with Pierre able to commit to his training with the security of something to come back to.
Pierre is now looking ahead to Tokyo to improve on his third-place finish. “We try to sail between three and four times a week and each time we’re out for about three hours. Now that I’ve finished [my studies], I can do both, finding time to train while still being able to work, in a way that works for me.”
“I think it’s wonderful, a young man managing to have two careers,” one of his patients tells the Olympic Channel. “Taking part in competitions at that level and being back at university on Monday without showing anything at all, I think that deserves a lot of credit and it takes a lot of work. To do that you have to be a balanced person.”
Are you an elite athlete interested in pursuing employment while continuing to compete at the highest level? Go to Career+ to access free-to-use, online resources on education, employment, life skills and more advice on balancing competition and career. Check out the other episodes of the Olympic Channel series Day Jobs for more inspirational examples of athletes balancing work and sport.
IT’S DIFFICULT TO MAKE A DECENT LIVING FROM WINDSURFING, SO I THINK IT’S IMPORTANT TO HAVE OTHER OPPORTUNITIES.
PIERRE LE COQ