Each week, LS Sport bring you the most inspiring sporting achievements which you may not have heard about, in our new ‘An Underdog Story’ blog.
In a week which has seen Great Britain qualify for the Davis Cup quarter-finals for the first time in 46 years, and Yorkshire’s Jamie Nicholls qualify for the first ever slopestyle final in Sochi, it is another Winter Olympics hopeful whose battle to simply reach the games has been most remarkable.
Following his diagnosis with tachycardia following the Vancouver games, the British ice dancer has been plagued by the heart condition which sent his heart rate towards 270 beats per minutes.
They finished 20th in that games, but the problems continued to persist and affect his performance. Forced to operate in the Autumn, Buckland feared this would end his chance to compete in Sochi.
However, following a speedy recovery, Buckland’s fears appear to have been premature. Indeed, following a surprise European Championships Bronze in January, he and skating partner Penny Coombes have taken their performances to new heights, and will compete in Sochi as Britain’s number one pairing.
Adding to a British contingent which is harbouring a far greater expectation than previous teams, UK Sport’s have targetted winning 3-7 medals at the games – for a team which has not won three Olympic winter medals since 1936.
Buckland and Coombes remain outsiders to contribute to that total, as they look to the 2018 games in South Korea to achieve this feat.
Just 24, the surgery would not likely have jeopardised Buckland’s chance of competing in Pyeongchang, but the added experience of running in these games will give the pair the kind of experience that could spur them into medal contention in four years time, according to their coach Evgeni Platov.
While that remains the target, the achievements of the pair against the odds so far have been astounding, and with Sochi around the corner, this could yet be an even bigger underdog story in the making.
Image courtesy of The Washington Post