“The pain you feel today will be the strength you feel tomorrow” is Kyle Buckingham’s motto and it is certainly one which has worked for the South African in his relatively short triathlon career.
After turning to full-distance triathlon in 2009 at the age of 25 - “my housemate was training for an IRONMAN and I thought why not give it a try” - Kyle marked his maiden professional season in 2014 by winning in Lake Placid.
He had earlier finished as the first amateur overall in what was then an age-group record at the World Championship in Kona.
More success followed in 2016 when he took first place at Vineman in Santa Rosa, California, and then in 2018 he captured the IRONMAN African Championship in his hometown of Port Elizabeth.
“I never got handed anything to me and had to work very hard to have what I have today,” says Buckingham of his life and career to date.
“I left home at 19 years old and worked as a qualified electrician in London without finishing school. I also started triathlons at the age of 25, so anything is possible if you have a dream.”
That is the legacy he hopes to pass on to South Africa’s youth, adding: “Anything is possible if you want something so bad”.
The pain Kyle felt in the last 4km before winning in Lake Placid in 2014 proved that adage true, but he also knows when to take it easy in training.
“When you have an easy session, then you go easy; when it’s hard, then it’s hard,” he says.
“My ex-coach Raynard Tissink said to me once on a Z2 ride, when I was still an age grouper as I chased after him on a climb, that if you ever do that again you will never become a pro athlete.”
Kyle has learned his lesson and now aims “to be a better me and give 120%”.
“I like to double/triple-check everything, e.g. before a ride and on race day in transition,” he says.