Lucy Buckingham: Background, career highlights, quotes

Lucy Buckingham (née Hall) has been representing GB on the world triathlon stage for over a decade. Here's where it all started for the Olympian...

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An Olympian at the tender age of 20, Lucy Buckingham boasts a CV that’s the envy of most triathletes, with prestigious victories at sprint, Olympic and half-Ironman distance. And there are very few who can keep up with her in the water.

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Who is Lucy Buckingham?

Credit: Michael Campanella/Getty Images for WTS

Known for many years as Lucy Hall (before her marriage to fellow elite triathlete Mark Buckingham), Lucy Buckingham has had an extremely eventful career, studded by success in various competitions and at various distances.

She first properly came to people’s attentions in the wake of her surprise selection for the GB team at the London Olympics in 2012.

Picked to work as a domestique for GB’s main hope, Helen Jenkins, Buckingham had leapfrogged several more successful and higher ranked athletes to get the nod.

She led the pack coming out of the Serpentine in Hyde Park, and was at the front of the peloton for much of the bike leg.

That performance in London confirmed Buckingham reputation for being one of the fastest – if not, the fastest – female triathletes in the water. Indeed, when competing for the French club Brive Limousin, she gained the nickname La Sirène – The Mermaid.

It’s been the core of her success. Build a lead on the swim, consolidate that advantage on the bike, and try to hold off the pack when it comes to the run, her weakest discipline. Sometimes the plan works, sometimes it doesn’t quite.

That it’s an approach which has delivered success is clear from Buckingham’s palmares. She’s won European Championships, she’s been a team world champion, she’s taken victories in World Cup and European Cup races, and she’s scored victories at both Ironman 70.3 and Challenge events.

Middle-distance racing has been her bread and butter for a few years now, and the 2022 season may well see Buckingham go even longer still.

How old is Lucy Buckingham?

Lucy Buckingham was born on 21 February 1992, making her 30 years of age.

Lucy Buckingham’s career highlights

Buckingham (then Hall) has been topping the podium for years (Credit: Warren Little/Getty Images)

March 2012: A first senior victory

After a handful of podium finishes in the junior ranks, the just-turned-20 Buckingham takes a first elite win at the ITU Triathlon Premium Pan American Cup in Salinas in Ecuador. Racing under her maiden name of Hall, her margin of victory is a comfortable three minutes.

August 2012: A surprise Olympic selection

Buckingham (then Hall) supported Jenkins as her domestique at London 2012 Olympics (Credit: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Selected ahead of faster and more experienced triathletes for her speed in the water, Buckingham takes the domestique role in the GB team, in support of Britain’s best medal hope, Helen Jenkins.

Jenkins finishes fifth while Buckingham, who posted the fastest swim split, comes in 33rd.

July 2014: A taste of world championship gold

Lucy Buckingham in the winning mixed relay team at the 2014 World Champs, Hamburg. (Credit: World Triathlon)

At the ITU mixed relay world champs in Hamburg, Buckingham is one quarter of the victorious British squad that romps to victory, alongside Vicky Holland and the Brownlee brothers.

July 2015: Another title, this one in her own right

At the ETU European Championships in Banyoles in Catalunya, Buckingham scores her greatest individual victory to date by becoming the U23 champion. She’s the only athlete to go under the two-hour mark.

May 2016: A team effort gives Buckingham European gold

Buckingham (then hall) has represented GB for over a decade (Credit: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

Four weeks after taking her maiden European Cup win in Madrid, Buckingham returns to the Iberian peninsula for the ETU European Championships.

Having made the top 10 in the individual race, Buckingham accompanies India Lee, Tom Bishop and Grant Sheldon in the mixed relay, which they win.

June 2016: A maiden senior individual title

The following month, Buckingham becomes a European champion in her own right when she’s victorious at the ETU Sprint European Championships in the French city Châteauroux where she outsprints compatriot Jess Learmonth to win by a single second.

February 2017: Buckingham is now a World Cup winner

Buckingham scores her first ITU World Cup win in Cape Town, 2017 (Credit: Greg Beadle/ITU)

In Cape Town, Buckingham scores her first ITU World Cup win. Again, as in Châteauroux eight months previously, just one second separates her and fellow Brit Learmonth.

June 2019: An impressive Ironman 70.3 debut

Having upgraded from Olympic to middle distance, Buckingham travels to Finland for her first 70.3 experience.

As expected, she’s first out of the water (and two minutes up on the field), and is second off the bike, but fades on the run, finishing a still very creditable sixth overall.

August 2021: A first 70.3 victory

In Gydnia, on Poland’s Baltic coast, Buckingham leads from gun to tape to take her maiden Ironman 70.3 win.

Her margin of victory is comfortable – one second short of four minutes.

August 2021: The Championship is added to her palmares

Four weeks after her triumph in Poland comes the highlight of a rather brilliant season.

After being a near-permanent fixture on the podia of various races in the Challenge series, Buckingham takes the win at The Championship in Slovakia, the prestigious race otherwise known as Challenge Samorin.

December 2021: Near-triumph on the track in Florida

Lucy Buckingham en route to a podium finish at Clash Daytona (Credit: Clash Endurance)

After dominating CLASH Daytona, the middle-distance race held at Daytona International Speedway in Florida, Buckingham is caught in the last half mile of the run by the American Jackie Hering and has to settle for second place. She’s still delighted, though.

Lucy Buckingham in quotes

On, somewhat controversially, being selected for the three-strong GB team for London 2012, despite there being seven British athlete ranked higher than her: “I’m a human being. I’m not a rock. I do have feelings. I hope people don’t see it as my fault and they realise I was selected to do a job. It’s a home Olympics. I can’t turn it down.’

On the transition from Olympic racing to middle distance: “The great thing about 70.3 is that you’re forever learning. From what I can gather, there’s never a perfect race. There are always variable that you just can’t control.”

On becoming champion of The Championship in 2021: “It was an amazing feeling. 2020 was such a turbulent year for me. I was considering retirement but I found my love for racing again.”

What’s next for Lucy Buckingham?

Winner Nikki Bartlett supports Lucy Buckingham as she falls over the line in second Ironman 70.3 Dun Laoghaire, 2019 (Credit: Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images for Ironman)

Having declared her intention to concentrate on 70.3 races for the first part of the 2022 season (indeed, a fourth place at IM 70.3 Lanzarote and three Challenge podiums are in the bank before the end of May), Buckingham will be looking to take her first tentative steps at Ironman distance in the latter half of the year.

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Top image: Clash Endurance