(Updated 11 September 2006)
Stéphan BUCKLAND, Mauritius (200m)
Born 12 January 1977, Floréal, near the town of Curepipe, Mauritius.
1,78m / 70 kg. First of three boys. Married. Lives in Floréal and in Paris. Father a baby girl named Milane.
Manager: Enrico Dionisi. Coach: Dr. Hervé Stéphan.
Did not complete school; stopped at form IV, 1994.
Started sports with volleyball in 1989 and was captain of a prize-winning town team. Also dabbled in judo and boxing.
Began running in 1992 after being selected to represent his college (Imperial College) for the Inter-college Championships, where he won medals at 80m and 150m in under-16 category. Started to train with French coach, Jacques Dudal, former technical director of French national team, and won 1992 national U16 competition at 150m in national age-group record 17.99.
In 1994, set national U18 records at 100m (10.85) and 200m (22.00), improving 100 record to 10.73 three months later. The next year (1995), though still a junior, set national senior 100m record (10.49) at training camp in France. In 1996, he participated to his first Olympics Games with the 4x100 national team in Atlanta.
In his first Indian Ocean Island Games, on Réunion Island in 1998, finished 2nd in 100 and took gold with Mauritius team in 4x100 relay.
In 1999, enjoyed brief stay at IAAF High Performance Training Centre (HPTC) in Dakar, training with Dr. Hervé Stéphan, and went on to clock 10.35, 10.33, and 10.22 during a trip to France. In August, took part in Seville World Championships, reaching 100m quarter finals (10.39). The next month, reached 100 semi-finals (10.34) in Johannesburg All Africa Games.
Invited to join HPTC Dakar in Autumn of 1999 and began to train seriously for first time. In 2000 he won 100m silver at 2000 African Championships in Algiers behind Aziz Zakari (GHA), but decided, with Dr. Stéphan, to focus on the 200m. In September, reached semi-final in Sydney Olympic 200 (20.56), becoming the first Mauritian athlete to get to such a level in the Olympics. Set or equalled national 200m record five times in 2000, with best of 20.31.
2001 was a breakthrough year. At the “Francophone Games” in Ottawa in July, Buckland took gold in the 100m (10.13 NR, beating World silver medallist Bruny Surin), the 200m and the 4x100 relay. The following month, reached 200m final at Edmonton World Championships (6th, 20.24) after setting new NR in semi-final (20.15). This same year, his brother, Mervin, won the African junior title on the 4x100 metres relay.
High hopes for Commonwealth Games medal in 2002 foundered when he injured a hamstring during the 200m semi-final. At the end of the 2002 season, Dr. Stéphan retired as coach of HPTC Dakar, and Buckland left with him to train together in Mauritius.
The new regime seemed to work well. Buckland finished 5th in 2003 Paris World Championships 200m (20.41) after setting new PB/NR in quarter finals—20.06, #3 on African All-Time list, behind Frankie Fredericks (19.68) and Francis Obikwelu (19.84).
One week after the World Championships, Buckland won his first individual gold medals at the Indian Ocean Games in Mauritius, taking both the 100 and the 200, as well as the 4x100 relay.
In 2004, Buckland won the 200 at the Rome GL (20.20) and placed in the top five in six more major Grand Prix meetings.
In August, Stéphan Buckland took the sixth place (20.24) at the Olympics Games in Athens and therefore became the first Mauritian sportspersons to achieve such a feat. But, theses Olympics meant a lot for him as his wife, Joëlle, gave birth to their baby girl, Milane, the day he started the competition in Athens with the first round of the 200 metres. That was a very exciting moment for Buckland who, in two days, experienced two very unforgettable moments, being father for the first and running his first Olympics final.
And a couple of days later he took the third place at the World Athletics Final in Monaco by clocking 20.41. That year, Stéphan Buckland was the first sportsperson ever in Mauritius to sign a sponsorship contract of Rs 1 million (around 25 000 €) with a local partner the “Groupe Mon Loisir” for a two years period.
In 2005, after coming so close to a podium at the past World class competitions, Stéphan Buckland was determined to taste to a medal at the World Championships in Helsinki. But things did not go as planned, and he finally finished fifth in the final behind the four sprinters from the United States. He was a little bit disappointed, but he was nevertheless happy to be, apart for the quartet from the United States, the first among the remainder of the world’s half- lap specialist.
The next year (2006), in Melbourne during the Commonwealth Games, Stéphan Buckland (20.47) won the silver medal in the 200 metres final just behind Jamaica’s Omar Brown in a really dramatic finish, as both athletes clocked the same time, and became the first sportsperson in athletics to succeed in getting a medal at those Games.
Stéphan Buckland is by far the most popular sportsman in Mauritius, indeed, in the Indian Ocean region. Born of a middle class family in the project of Mangalkhan, and having a really difficult life when he was young, At that time, he was doing some part time jobs everywhere he could just to help his mother and father. Hard work and sacrifice has always been a leitmotiv for Buckland who did not have an easy life at all. He even dropped athletics, in 1997, for about one year as he had to help his family and mainly as he had no flexible working hours to enable him to train. But, the love for athletics was to strong, so he came back.
Even with his success in athletics, he still lives modestly in “Cité Mangalkhan”, a housing project in Floréal. While in Mauritius, Buckland spends almost all of his time playing football, volley-ball and basket-ball with the local kids, and “pétanque” with his dad and friends from Cité Mangalkhan. He even takes part in local “pétanque” tournaments with the team of his neighbourhood. Buckland, who still play football and basketball with the local kids, also takes any opportunity to share his passion for athletics with youngsters and helps them as far as possible by giving them equipment and conducting clinics which he organizes.
Today Stéphan Buckland is extremely determined to use is popularity to help others, to help those kids from the project like the one of Mangalkhan to have better chances in life, in sports or in academic issues. This is why, Stéphan Buckland stepped in political issues (not with the same success as in athletics, since he was not elected) is the opportunity to give the best chances to youngsters and kids from his native town, and most particularly the kids from his project, Mangalkhan which suffers from drugs problems and a lack of facilities linked to sports and culture.
He did so just after the World Championships in Athletics in Helsinki. Stéphan Buckland was approached by a political party to represent them at the Municipal elections scheduled for October 2005. Stéphan Buckland accepted the offer while aspiring for a post as member of the municipal council of the town of Curepipe, where he lived. But he was not elected.
Most recently, at the beginning of 2006, Stéphan Buckland and a group of his best friends, with the help of some sponsors, revived the Mangalkhan Sports Club, which has been inactive pour several years. Stéphan Buckland is the current president of the club.
They entirely restored the building hosting the Club headquarters and even fitted out the club’s headquarters with some leisure facilities. Since the reopening of the club, Stéphan Buckland and his friends already organised a street basket tournament and a football tournament, which had both a resounding success and they are still enthusiastic to organise event more activities with the aim to promote sports in Cité Mangalkhan and also island wide.
But Buckland really stepped in those social activities since 2000, when he accepted to be the godfather of a fund raising organised by PILS, a non governmental association actively involved in the fight against AIDS in Mauritius. A naturally, Buckland got involved in other social activities and fund raisings. And one of his most memorable participation, is about a campaign which took place in 2003 when he sold his running suit, in 2003, for Rs 75 000 (around 2000 €) and gave all the money to help some associations who fight against poverty in Mauritius.
Yearly progression 100/ 200:
1994 - 10.73/--; 1995 - 10.61/ 21.59; 1996 - 10.49/ 21.14; 1997 - 10.47/--; 1998 - 10.4/--; 1999 - 10.22/--; 2000 - 10.16/ 20.31; 2001 - 10.13/ 20.15; 2002 - 10.13/ 20.29; 2003 - 10.20/ 20.06; 2004 - 10.21/ 20.20; 2005 - 10.28/20.28; 2006 – 10.23/20.47
Prepared by Reynolds Quirin for the IAAF "Focus on Africans" project. Copyright IAAF 2005.