Lloydricia Cameron was 3 going on 4 the first time she threw the shot.
The Florida junior thrower, whose first name is the female adaptation of her father’s name, Lloyd, said she grew up on a track because her mom was a track athlete from Jamaica.
The Miami native said one day while she was 3 and was running around a track, she saw a heavy metal ball.
She wanted to throw it.
“I cried about it like day after day after day, saying, like, ‘I want to do it. I want to do it,’” Cameron said.
She said her mother and mother’s friends were concerned for her safety and thought she would hurt herself if she threw it, but Cameron’s tears served as her mother’s reason to let her try it.
So she did, and she wasn't bad for a 3-year-old.
“I didn’t have a coach or anything,” Cameron said. “It was just me going out there, throwing it, and trying my best, and as I got older, I became more interested… I was taking it more serious than I thought.”
In high school, Cameron said she still was not taught the proper techniques for throwing events in track. Her coaches had not been throwers in their careers.
Although Cameron said her coaches tried to look up techniques to help her, she developed bad habits.
However, that didn’t stop her from getting the 8.8-pound metal ball in the air.
“I don’t know how I threw that far, but every year I progressed,” Cameron said.
After placing third or higher in all but five of the 74 meets she competed in from 2012-14 and throwing a high school-best of 49 feet 3 inches in the shot put, she started gaining attention from collegiate recruiters. She earned offers from Florida, FSU, LSU, Purdue and Clemson.
Cameron said the trust she had in Florida assistant coach Steve Lemke and UF's academics separated the school from the rest.
“I felt that there was a lot of support shown on my visit,” Cameron said. “I knew that I would be able to be successful in school because I’m really focused on school mostly.”
When she arrived on campus, she said there was work to be done on breaking her bad throwing habits and also getting her body into the correct shape to compete in collegiately.
“When I came here, I was horrible,” she said. “I couldn’t do the majority of the Olympic lifting because of flexibility reasons and just not being introduced to it at a certain age. I came in fresh, and I didn’t know anything.”
In her freshman season in 2015, Cameron threw her season-best mark of 51 feet, 7.75 inches in the shot put for a runner-up spot at the Doc Hale Elite Meet at Virginia Tech and a fourth-place finish at the Tyson Invitational at Arkansas. She won her first collegiate event in the discus throw at the UCF Black and Gold Challenge.
In 2016 as a sophomore, she placed seventh in the shot put at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, becoming the first Gator to score in the shot put at the NCAA Outdoor Championships since 2010. As for her first place finishes, Cameron won the discus throw titles at the UF Tom Jones Memorial meet and the shot put title at the Power Conference Cardinal & Gold meet at the University of Southern California. For her success in 2016, she was named a USTFCCCA Outdoor All-American.
With two wins in the shot put and another in the weight throw so far in 2017, Cameron said her goal for this season is just to be consistent.
She has already reached her season goal of qualifying for the NCAA Indoor Championships — something she said she wanted to do after not making it in her freshman and sophomore seasons.
This weekend, Cameron and some fellow Florida throwers head to Blacksburg, Virginia, to compete in the Doc Hale Elite Meet on Feb. 3-4. She said if she throws further than she did at the Hokie Invitational on Jan. 20, she’ll be happy.
“That’ll let me know that I actually did work on the things I needed to work on, and I’ve progressed through this week break that we’ve had,” she said.
Cameron said one thing that people don’t understand about throwing events in track and field is how technical they are. She said from her experience, people think that if you’re big and strong, “you got it.”
“A lot of people look at it like, ‘Anybody can go out there and throw it,’” Cameron said. “It’s really not that easy.”
Contact Daniel Smithson at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @DanielTSmithson.
UF thrower Lloydricia Cameron throws the shot put during the 2016 SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships.