For Flora Duffy, 2016 has been an astonishing year and on Friday 4th November those people who are quick enough to get tickets will get a chance to rub shoulders and listen to Bermuda’s newest world champion as Flora will be the guest of honour at a wine tasting evening (see details below) . Flora will talk about her extraordinary year and what it has taken to become the No. 1 triathlete in the world, with all of the ups and downs she has been through, including a spell away from the sport, since in 2006 as a promising youngster she took a silver medal at the junior world championships and turned professional.
In the life of a professional athlete there can be many highs and lows and the margins between failure and success are often very small. Sometimes the pieces all fall into place and sometimes they don’t. Going into the 2016 Olympics in Rio Flora, with her fearless racing style, had turned the world of professional women’s triathlon on its head and she arrived in Rio with the weight of the expectations of her small island home on her shoulders. But in the end the pieces just did not fall into place on the day because if they had, Flora would have brought home Bermuda’s first Olympic medal since Clarence Hill’s legendary bronze medal. Nevertheless an 8th place finish in a field of 75 of the best triathletes in the world on an off day was still something to be proud of.
But since a very young age Flora showed the mental strength and dedication which combined with her athletic talent was always someday going to make her a champion. She had already twice been crowned XTerra (off road) triathlon world champion, but in the world of professional triathlon the two titles that really matter are the ITU World Series and Grand Final crown and the Ironman World Championship crown.
Still wondering what had gone wrong in Rio, Flora headed to the blistering heat of Cozumel, Mexico with her whole season in the balance. It was here that the Grand Final of the ITU World Series would take place and although Flora was leading the series everyone knew that the Olympic champion, Gwen Jorgensen, who had been virtually unbeatable all year, could take the title with a win at the Grand Final and very few in the know were betting against Gwen. By being ranked number 1 in the world going into the Grand Final Flora had by her own admission exceeded all of her expectations but deep down she must have known that if she failed to capture the crown after her Rio disappointment it would all be a case of what might have been.
But it was in the cauldron of Cozumel, in the Grand Final of one of the fastest growing sports in the world infront of a worldwide television audience of millions that a calm and confident Flora showed the mental strength and ability to suffer like very few can as she executed the perfect race and the pieces of the puzzle fell perfectly into place. Leading from the front in her usual manner she destroyed the field to win by over a minute from the strongest field of triathletes assembled in 2016 to become the triathlon Grand Final champion and the overall 2016 Points Series World Champion.
And just this week Flora made history again by demolishing the field to win her third Xterra World Championships in a row in a sport in which she has become virtually unbeatable in recent years.
Flora’s smile and look of disbelief as she crossed the line in Cozumel captured the hearts of Bermuda and by all accounts the hearts of millions across the globe who admired her “ from the front “ racing style that put everything on the line. But she also sent out a message that hard work and dedication can bring great success no matter where you are from and also showed that our little sports mad island can produce world champions.
Tickets for “An evening with Flora Duffy” from 5.30 – 8PM on Friday 4th November at the Bermuda Society of Arts can be ordered via on line payment to Bermuda Triathlon Association HSBC Acct # 010-226678-001 – Reference: Your Last Name – Flora. You should then EMail : firstname.lastname@example.org for your ticket confirmation. Tickets are $60 for adults and $20 for those under 18. Tickets include wine tasting and the chance to bid for some prizes. Proceeds will go to the Bermuda Triathlon Asociation to assist with its programmes.