Feature Friday: Yours Truly, Landria Buckley

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“Inspiring young athletes, letting them know just because you’re from a small town and/or attend a small school it doesn’t mean you can’t do big things! Follow your dreams!!”

Landria Buckley is an American 400 hurdler and Howard University (undergrad) and University of Maryland (M.B.A.) Alumnae. She was born in Michigan and most of her life lived in a small town called Romulus, right outside of Detroit. She has 5 siblings (4 of which she was raised with) and comes from a very loving family. Her mother, Priscilla Estep, has been a major support system throughout her entire life, believing in her whole heartily on whatever venture she found herself on. And her father, Landress Buckley, has always pushed her athletically, giving her the drive, will to win, and competitiveness of a champion. Her personal honors and awards include 2008 Olympic Trials Qualifier, 2013 USA National Finalist, USA 2013 World University Finalist, 1 x NCAA All- American, 4 x NCAA All- Region, 6 x MEAC Champion, 6 x Howard University MVP.

“My high school coach told my mom, that it was as if I was meant to run hurdles.”
What’s your story? 

I have been athletically inclined ever since I can remember. My mother was very active in placing all of her children in a variety of sports and when I was young I played everything from tennis, soccer, floor hockey, and anything else my mother found out about. Because of that foundation, I had a very successful high school career, earning 8 varsity letters, countless medals and awards, and being team captain multiple years in both track and basketball. While most kids spent their summers on vacation or hanging out with friends, I was busy driving from one practice to another. At one point, I would literally leave track practice and go straight to basketball practice, talk about exhausting.

My first few years in high school, I was specifically asked by my coaches and mother to stay away from the hurdles because I was clumsy and I had fallen walking over them a few times. Only through the grace of God, my high school team was short one hurdler to do the shuttle hurdle relay and my coach figured he could teach me the basics and I could run a good leg because I was already fast. I was too ambitious for that though, I wanted to learn perfect technique and I even recruited some of the really great boy hurdlers (shoutout to Sam and Daniel 😉 ) to teach me how to run them properly. I spent hours working on my technique and often stayed after practice with my coaches working on it. When my mother found out what my coach was up to she completely lost it. She thought I was joking for about two months when I told her I was learning the hurdles. She didn’t realize I was telling the truth until our first meet was approaching. She showed up at practice to have a serious talk with my coach and he told her that it was as if I was meant to run them and to just watch me race in the first meet and if she felt differently he would take me out immediately. At the first meet, I broke the school record and won the event. Needless to say I became a hurdler. I went on to place 2nd at the Michigan State Championships, 7th at USATF National Championships, and 3rd at AAU National Championships that same year!

After high school, I received a full scholarship to Howard University. I had a pretty successful career considering that Howard has a very small athletic program and, while I was there, the school focused primarily on academics. During college I became a 400 hurdler, as well as a 100 hurdler, and found another kind of way to love the hurdles. I suffered a few injuries throughout my collegiate career but, none the less, I became an Division 1 All- American, Qualified for NCAA Nationals 3 years, participated in the 2008 Olympic Trials, 6 x Conference Champion, 6 x MVP, and achieved countless awards, medals and broke numerous records.

In 2010 (2011 track season) as a post-collegiate, I decided that I had a lot of untapped potential and I wanted to train full time and become a professional track and field athlete. I moved to Atlanta and started training with an elite group of Olympians, World medalist, and track superstars. I was able to travel the world competing (Germany, Austria, Africa, Jamaica, Trinidad, Italy) and it was amazing but my times were inconsistent. Competing on the elite level as a rookie and having inconsistent times was one of the most trying times in my life. It was embarrassing racing on the World stage and sometimes running times a college freshman could run. The up and down rollercoaster became too much for me and by the end of the season, I had completely fallen out of love with track. So the next year (2011/2012), I made up my mind to start my career and I began working at Allstate.

Working at Allstate turned out to be worse than running inconsistent times on the circuit. I found myself in Atlanta, working a job I hated with barely any friends or loved ones around. I was mildly depressed and when I realized it, I decided to make a change immediately. Two weeks before classes started at the University of Maryland, I applied and even though I bombed my GMAT, I was accepted the following week!

During this time, I was building my relationship with God. During prayer one night in November 2012, the realization that I was not walking in my purpose was revealed to me and I knew I needed to give track one more chance. So, I contacted the UMD head coach and asked if he would train me. To my surprise, he asked for me to drop in at a practice. We had a brief meeting and he just kept telling me to come back. He never actually said he would train me but I kept showing up. That year, 2013, was a breakout year for me! I placed 7th at USA Track and Field Champions/ World Trials. I had a huge personal best and best of all I represented the United States of American at the World University Games in Kazan, Russia!!!! God had blessed me.

The following year (2014) was not as great. While the entire season I had been running consistent times that were good and I had ran most of my top 10 personal best times that year, I ended up having issues with my calves and Achilles tendon. By the end of the season I was only practicing every other day because my Achilles had gotten so bad. I ended the season not even making it to the simi-finals at USA Nationals. But because of my injury, I was able to take additional classes for my M.B.A. in the summer and I was able to plan to graduate in Spring 2015 instead of Spring 2016. In the fall of 2014, I started training again but my injury lingered on. In December 2014, I made the choice not to compete for the 2015 season. It was very hard for me but I knew I would not get better until my body rested. So I prepared for graduation, took amazing trips and study abroads (Brazil, Singapore, Japan, Italy, France), worked and enjoyed my life but something was missing.

During the summer of 2015, I moved back to Michigan and found myself at a crossroads. I was torn between starting my career as a M.B.A. graduate or training as an Olympic hopeful. After much deliberation, I decided to give track one last shot but only if I trained at Altis in Phoenix, Arizona. Altis is a professional track and field training center where some of the best athletes in the world train with some of the most elite coaches in the world. The selection process is very selective and I was not sure if they would accept me. I applied for the training center in June and I had almost completely given up hope of acceptance in September. One day after a heart wrenching conversation with my mother about how my track dreams had come to an end, I received an email from Altis letting me know that I was accepted. The first thing my mother said was “God is not done with you yet.” So here I am, after all the ups and downs, all the amazing experiences and accomplishments, all the adversities and all of God’s blessings, I am pursuing the 2016 Olympics in one of the most elite environments with the most elite coaches in the World. Knowing that this is my path and inspiring young athletes, letting them know just because you’re from a small town and/or attend a small school it doesn’t mean you can’t do big things! Follow your dreams!!

“I have never been more proud to be an American!”
What was your most monumental moment in Track and Field?
This is a really tough question for me! I’ve been running track my whole life and I’ve had sooooooo many amazing monumental moments that it is very hard to choose. But if I must, I have to say when I represented the United States of America at the 2013 World University Games in Kazan, Russia. The entire experience was nothing short of amazing, from the Athlete Village to the fans to the opening ceremony, it was an once in a lifetime experience and I am so grateful to God I was able to take part. When I put on my USA uniform and stepped on the track to represent one of the greatest countries in the World, I knew I had to make an Olympic team. That experience gave me so much pride and motivation, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I have never been more proud to be an American!
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 “I want to find out my true potential.”
What is your mindset going into the Olympic year?
My mindset going into the Olympic year is complete focus. I am focused fully on having my body in an optimal state and taking full advantage of my training. I understand the significance of this year and what having a great season could do. I am completely dedicated to training and making this Olympic team, and through the grace of God, I will or I will go down fighting!!!! My main focus is giving everything I have and seeing where and how far it takes me. I want to find out my true potential.
“I truly feel like I am in good hands.”
How is your training going so far?
Training is going great! Earlier in the season, I had a minor set back. I ended up hurting my knee and having to do rehab for 6 weeks but when I came back I wasn’t too far behind. Now I am right on target and it seems like I was never injured at all!! My coach, Kevin Tyler, is very conscious and dedicated to his athletes and I truly feel like I am in good hands. I am running faster than I ever have at this point in the season and I am very excited about this Olympic year!
“Be proactive.”
Advice to Young Athletes?
Be more than an athlete and study your craft. Get involved! A lot of athletes get comfortable with only being an athlete but fail to realize that being an athlete isn’t enough. Find other things you are passionate about, diversify yourself because our bodies will only last so long and when your athletic career is over, you don’t want that to be the only thing that defines you. Also, study your craft. Learning is essential. Learn yourself as an athlete, learn your sport/event, learn as much as you can! The more you understand your sport/event the more you will be able to apply that knowledge and the better you will be able to perform. Don’t depend on your coaches to teach you. Be proactive and learn it yourself!
“Motivation is essential!”
Workout Tips 
Cardio is your friend and find a way to keep yourself motivated. Cardio is the best way to lose pounds and it really is doing anything that makes you work up a sweat. So get moving, find whatever you enjoy that makes you sweat and keep at it. Most of the time people will start working out for a little bit and then fall off the wagon. It is important to find ways to stay motivated. Having a workout partner, vision board, looking at a fitness picture everyday or any other fun creative way to keep you motivated is essential!
Thank you for Reading and Please check out our next Feature Friday Next Friday with Terry Benson!!!

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