Never before, has the little Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, waited with so much fervour for the Olympics Games. Never, in its whole history, have the people of Mauritius been so near the mythical Olympic dream.
Mauritius is dreaming of an Olympic track and field medal, and this dream focuses on Stéphan Buckland, 27, who is running the 200 metres in Athens.
“I don’t really think about the medal, as the main goal for me in Athens is to go as far as I can in the 200 metres event. And I think most particularly of the final. I have never been in an Olympic final and being part of it, means a lot to me,” confirms Buckland, who was semi-finalist in Sydney.
The leader of the IAAF World Ranking for the Event (200m) since July, winner of the Golden Gala of Rome (TDK Golden League) last month, and a finalist at the 2001 and 2003 World Championships, Stéphan Buckland has posted serious arguments to justify why he should be expected to gain a place in the Athens 200m final.
“Of course, that success in Rome, during the Golden League, is significant to me. It boosted me. And, significantly, I ran 20.20 which is my season best. I also confirmed my form by running 20.28 in Iráklio, two days later, and 20.27 in Lausanne four days after Rome,” he explains.
“But things were different in Paris (TDK Golden League) where I finished fourth in 20.46. And because of food poisoning, I completely missed my race in Zurich. However, I’m still confident for Athens.”
“The race is going to be very tough in Athens. It is important to be calm for the Olympics Games. Everything is possible there,” insists Buckland who is currently having a pre-Games training camp with his coach, French Dr. Hervé Stéphan.
“Hervé is very important to me. He contributed a lot to what has happened to me since 2000. He changed my way of training and he taught me that only hard work could bring me there.”
Formerly a member of the IAAF High Performance Training Centre (HPTC) of Dakar, Stéphan Buckland, at the end of the 2002 season, decided to quit the centre and to continue preparing in his homeland with his coach, Dr. Hervé Stéphan, who also retired as director of HPTC of Dakar during the same year.
“At that time, there were a lot of criticism concerning my choice. It’s true that the Centre of Dakar helped me a lot in my progression, but I was persuaded that it was time for me to leave Dakar,” confided Buckland.
Since the end of 2002, Stéphan Buckland has been training in Mauritius, at the Maryse Justin Stadium, and moved to Europe since June to join his coach in Paris.
“It’s not so hard to train in Mauritius. The secret is to be serious at work. There, I have my wife, my family and my friends. Mauritius holds my roots and I feel at home there.”
Reynolds Quirin for the IAAF