Paul-Henri de Le Rue Went from Coma to Sochi 2014 Olympic Final in a Month

Mark PattersonUK Staff WriterFebruary 18, 2014

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 18:  Hanno Douschan of Austria (white bib), Luca Matteotti of Italy (blue bib), Pierre Vaultier of France (green bib), Paul-Henri De Le Rue of France (yellow bib), Omar Visintin of Italy (red bib) and Cameron Bolton of Australia (black bib) compete in the Men's Snowboard Cross Semifinals on day eleven of the 2014 Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on February 18, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Paul-Henri de Le Rue may have missed out on a medal in the men's snowboard cross final, but his fourth-place finish was a remarkable story given the Frenchman had been in a coma just a month earlier.

De Le Rue ended up just outside the top three, with compatriot Pierre Vaultier taking gold. Given where he was Jan. 12, it was a miracle he was there at all.

He suffered a serious fall that landed him in an artificial coma. As his official profile on the Sochi website explains:

On 12 January 2014 he collided with an Italian snowboarder at a World Cup event in Andorra, and suffered serious facial trauma. He also lost consciousness and bruised his lungs. He was transported to a hospital in Toulouse, France, where he was put into an induced coma.

At first, doctors feared the worst. French newspaper Sud-Ouest reported that at one stage after the fall all he could remember was his first name. Fortunately, the man nicknamed "Polo" made a swift recovery.

Per his Sochi profile: "Despite doctors describing his condition as serious, he had regained consciousness by the following morning and had no memory loss."

Nonetheless, to recover to the point of being able to compete again is remarkable.

Two weeks after the fall, he was back on the snow with a fortnight to prepare for the Olympics. He even filmed and uploaded the footage to YouTube:

The fact that the event was postponed a day by fog probably didn't hurt his chances either.