FLORA DUFFY’S STELLAR YEAR
IT IS EXCITING for a country that could fit all its inhabitants into Toronto’s Rogers Centre to be the home to the woman who won three different world championships in 2016. Were it not for Gwen Jorgensen taking the Olympic gold medal and Daniela Ryf ripping up the Ironman scene, Flora Duffy’s year would have put her on more than a few magazine covers and really put Bermuda on the world triathlon map.
So how big a deal is it for Bermuda that Flora Duffy is flying so high these days? All the talk of her being a potential factor in the Olympics was huge for the country of 65,000. It’s not too often they enjoy such sporting highlights. To have her follow her eighth place in Rio with a huge win in Cozumel that netted her the ITU World Championship was even more exciting. Duffy then ripped up the off- road triathlon circuit with two more world titles – the Xterra championship in Maui, Hawaii and then the ITU World Cross Championships in Australia.
While Duffy has been doing triathlons since she was a kid, her first real athletic success came in the pool – she represented Bermuda at the junior Commonwealth Games in 2004. In addition to her Rio appearance she also competed at the games in Beijing (2008) and London (2012).
Those of us who have been in the sport for long enough here in Ontario remember all the times we’ve seen large crews of triathletes make the trip to Canada to compete during the summer. This year there was another large crew from Bermuda on hand for the national championships in Ottawa. Believe it or not, there was a time when the travelling Bermuda squad was even bigger. In 1990 there were 34 athletes from Bermuda who took part at the ITU World Championships in Orlando, Fla. That base no- doubt helped inspire Duffy and fellow Olympian Tyler Butterfield to, well, Olympic heights. Their success will certainly inspire others to follow in their footsteps.
With her incredible biking skills one wonders just how fast Duffy could be over a half- or full- distance course. Who knows if she’ll venture down that path over the next few years. Right now, though, it’s just exciting to watch her do what she does so well – race with a gofor-broke style right from the gun that makes virtually any race she’s in riveting to watch. That’s for all the rest of the world. For the 65,000 folks from Bermuda, it’s even more of a thrill.– KM