For Shea Buckner, competing in the Olympics was a childhood dream that turned into a reality this past summer at the 2012 summer Olympics in London. Buckner currently plays professional water polo in Sardinia, Italy and the dream continues to live as he trains for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. His success is an example that determination, hard work and focus will get you where you want in life.
I had the chance to sit down with him and ask him a few questions about his career, life in Italy, and found out who his favorite athlete is.
Was being in the Olympics a childhood dream or did you always think that you would be doing something else right now?
I was watching the 1996 Olympics with my dad and I told him that I was going to be an Olympian. At that time I was also a baseball player, so I never really realized how serious that goal and that dream would really be. When I turned 18, I had to make a decision to either play baseball or water polo in college and it came down to me just wanting to be an Olympian and it stuck with me my whole life. I chose water polo over baseball because of the Olympic dream.
What would you be doing right now if you weren’t playing Water Polo?
That's interesting... I would probably be playing baseball because just to be honest, I was a pretty good player, I threw really hard. I'm also into finance, I taught myself how to trade options on my downtime. Maybe I'd do real estate. I have no idea, it's kind of funny, once you get involved in a sport, you don't really consider other things. When I'm not playing, I'm doing things for sponsors and when you're not doing that, you're getting back on shape to start the season again. You're always doing something for your sport regardless if you're actually playing the sport or not.
So we’ll be seeing you in Brazil?
Yes. As long as I stay healthy.
What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you under water?
There's a lot of grabbing and kicking. You get hit in the junk sometimes, which really sucks in the middle of the game, but you can't stop. I've probably had like 40 stitches on my face, I've had four concussions, broken my hands...
How are you liking Italy?
It's amazing. Italy is a lot different from here. It's my third year playing professional over there, so I now speak the language- I speak fluent Italian, which makes it easier.
So you taught yourself?
Yes. This year I started studying. Two years ago, I was the guy who sat there and didn't talk, and as time went on, I was able to pick up the language.
What part of Italy?
I live in Sardinia. Food is amazing, the culture, the people are very hospitable. They want to be involved in your life, they ask questions, they care. It's all about family, just more of a wholesome attitude. I love it.
Any thoughts about the Lakers?
Fans need to understand that it’s not how you start; it’s how you finish. They're doing better. I got to know Kobe really well at the Olympics; he's my favorite athlete.
Want to learn more about Shea? follow him on Twitter @sheabuckner or go to www.sheabuckner.com