BY LEANN DILBECK –
Clint Buck, a Mena freshman track standout, has been invited to compete in the prestigious international 26th annual Down Under Sports Tournament this summer in Australia, representing the North Central Conference Cross County Team and his hometown of Mena, Arkansas.
The invitation was sent to Mena High School and Clint admits to being scared when he was called to the office because, like most students, he feared the worse. What a pleasant surprise he received when he opened the envelope and discovered that he was being recruited for an international competition! He admits to not being able to concentrate on anything for the rest of the day. He later learned he was essentially being “drafted” in the event’s first round of only 300 invitations. Clint explained because of the high price tag to travel to compete, many students will be unable to attend, and therefore, multiple rounds of invitations are sent out as they seek to fill the slots.
Clint has displayed incredible potential as a runner, competing in State Competition for his first time and finishing with a 5K time of 19:24. He’s not completely sure what landed him on Down Under’s radar but said he doesn’t plan to disappoint anyone – he takes the honor to represent Arkansas and Mena seriously. His motivation to compete in this event isn’t just for self and the huge opportunity to travel abroad, but he hopes that it serves as a motivation to others,
“I want to show people in Mena that you don’t just have to be from big cities to be recognized for your talents… you just have to work hard, train and want it bad enough.”
Which directly corresponds to the mission of Down Under Sports, whose mission statements says, “Down Under Sports believes that sport is the international language common to all countries and people around the world and that it can help remove cultural and international barriers. Therefore, the mission of Down Under Sports is to promote the growth, development and self-esteem of the individual athlete through sport; to raise the level of awareness and competion to the benefit of both the host country and the participating athlete; to forge friendships that bridge the gap of both distance and time, through mutual competition that promotes health and sportsmanship.”
The 2014 Down Under Sports program, that Clint will represent Mena, Arkansas in, will include competition in track and field, cross-country, golf, wrestling, football, volleyball and basketball.
The Down Under Sports programs use the common language of sports to bridge the continents and provide a forum for athletes from around the globe to compete head-to-head in the sport they love. During the past 25 years, Down Under Sports has had the opportunity to share the land Down Under with tens of thousands of individuals from across the United States. Clint will soon find himself on the same alumni list as these NFL legends: Jake “The Snake” Plummer (Denver Broncos), Ahman Green (Green Bay Packers), Rob Morris (Indianapolis Colts), Dave Dixon (Minnesota Vikings), and Jesse Williams (Seattle Seahawks).
Clint moved to Mena with his family in 2012 from Eagletown, Oklahoma, after his father died. Eagletown didn’t offer a track program so Clint is relatively new to the sport. He credits good genetics, a very supportive and influential mother, and a passion for the sport for his success. He is grateful for the training and encouragement from all of his coaches and credits their conditioning in the off-season for not only his speed but also his endurance.
Clint recently completed his first full half marathon by running the grueling Talimena 13.1, by far he said, the farthest he had ever run. He said not only was the altitude and distance a challenge but even the terrain.
While that distance is certainly impressive, especially for a beginner, it is the 1-mile, 5K and 800 meter that Clint considers his specialties. He said because of his endurance, when other runners are slowing at the finish, he is able to dig deep and sprint.
Unlike most young men his age, Clint is thinking beyond the immediate thrill of the trip and the competition to long-range goals of earning scholarships to pursue a degree in construction/civil engineering. His research of Down Under Sports indicates that participation in the prestigious international competition is weighted heavily.
Clint will be competing in two events. The first is the Gold Coast Marathon, 5.7K, where he will represent both the United States and Arkansas competing against 30,000 other competitors. He will represent Arkansas in the Elite All-American 5K against 4,000 other competitors representing their states.
Businesses or individuals who are interested in helping Clint meet his financial goal of $5,000 can visit his Facebook page, Send Clint Down Under at mailto:https://www.facebook.com/SendClintDownUnder. Sponsors will be automatically entered into a drawing to win two all-expense paid trips to the 2014 Down Under Sports Competition in Australia and Hawaii OR to win a 5-day cruise for 2.
Clint has already been actively beating the pavement for donations to make his dream into a reality and has been overwhelmed at the support he’s received. He plans to continue and participate in upcoming events selling t-shirts. He expressed his appreciation to everyone’s receptiveness and generosity, “Thanks to the community for all their help. Without their help I wouldn’t be able to go.”