FLORA DOES BERMUDA PROUD….. AGAIN

Duffy Bermuda 2018 WTS

It had the makings of a perfect script….. “Flora Duffy returns home to Bermuda from her Commonwealth Games gold winning performance and in front of family, friends and cheering crowds and a large television audience, puts in a dominant and record breaking performance in the MS Amlin Bermuda World Cup”. It just needed Flora to deal with the enormous pressure on her and deliver the perfect script. And…..

Ofcourse Flora delivered with an emphatic and dominant win worthy of a world champion. Not only did Flora win by an extraordinary 1 min 46 secs ( despite slowing at the finish to acknowledge the crowd) but she also posted the fastest 1500 swim (19 min 38 secs), 40km bike (1:06:32) and 10km run (34:29) times, a feat never before achieved in the current World Series format. And it was a performance that left every Bermudian watching, including many who knew very little about the sport of triathlon, ecstatic.

Triathlon legend Greg Welch summed it up best as in a bold move Flora rode to stay away from the group chasing her on the bike when he announced :

“Bermuda, it’s your champion against the rest of the world”.

Looking relaxed and confident but extremely focused Flora was all business as she set up in transition. Such was her focus that she did not even acknowledge the crowd even though she could not help but hear them.

Without the presence of the strong British swimmers, Sophie Coldwell and Jessica Learmonth to help her, Flora wasted no time in going to the front of the swim, as the huge crowds anxiously watched on the giant screens and telephone feeds to see if she could open up that important 10-15 second gap going into the bike. Then word came down that three athletes had been penalised for jumping the gun at the swim start but fortunately after an anxious wait Flora wasn’t one of those three.

And then, just before the 750m exit from the water to start the second 750m swim, there it was, a small but discernible gap between Flora and four other athletes and the rest of the field.  Included in Flora’s lead group was the very capable USA athlete, Kirsten Kasper, who could potentially work with Flora on the bike.

At the swim exit the gap was around 20 seconds and the crowd knew that Flora was in a perfect position to deliver what had to be nothing less than the gold medal. Flora and Kasper had the best transitions and within the first 200 meters of the bike had distanced the three others in the lead swim group and it appeared like the perfect scenario. Kasper stuck on Flora’s wheel but as they climbed Corkscrew Hill for the first time Flora started to distance Kasper ; maybe not such a perfect scenario. Earlier when talking to the crowd I had told them that if there was a small  lead group early on the bike but nobody would or could work with Flora then expect Flora to go solo. Flora soft pedaled for 10 meters looking back at Kasper but when the American did not respond it took her just seconds to make the decision to go it alone, not the first time Flora has done that but nevertheless a bold move. And just like that she accelerated up Corkscrew and was gone. By the end of lap 1 the gap on the chasers was 30 secs as Kasper fell back into the chasing group. The gap appeared to be growing but then midway through the ten lap bike the chase group clawed back some seconds and you could sense a twinge of anxiety in the crowd of spectators. Flora, perhaps from splits from husband Dan Hugo, responded with a strong lap that moved her advantage out a further 13 seconds and then it was all Flora as her lead grew each lap.

As Flora entered T2 safe from the bike and with about a one minute advantage the crowd knew that barring a meltdown, the race was all but won. Flora however was still all business, not even looking at the crowds as she set off at a blistering run pace down front street. Any thought that the chasing pack would catch her were soon dispelled as Flora kept up a relentless pace that none of the athletes behind her, despite having worked together as a pack on the bike, could match. Each lap was a procession through a cacophony of noise as the crowd roared on their island champion.

With just 1/2km to go on the run, Flora finally allowed herself to relax from her steely focus as she raised her arms to acknowledge the crowd and her customary huge grin broke out. As she crossed the line the smile said it all as she knew she had come full circle from a 10 year old watching Emma Carney in 1997 win the World Cup Bermuda to delivering 20 years later the biggest present she could give herself and Bermuda, a gold medal performance in Bermuda from their world and Commonwealth Games champion against the best in the world.

Earlier yesterday I had spoken to Phillipe Fattori, the Frenchman who won the men’s Bermuda world cup in 1997 and who is now one of the French coaches. He told me that Flora had told him that he had signed her Tshirt for her after that race. As I watched so many children wanting to have their picture taken with Flora or asking for her autograph the real significance of Flora’s achievement came to me. Many of these children were triathletes but many of them had probably never seen a triathlon before in their life. And as I looked at the racial make up of the crowd and these excited children I realised that Flora had achieved much more than winning a race. She had united an island, even for only a day, in a way in which, during most lifetimes, only a passing hurricane has achieved.

And so, at a time when Bermuda needs to be united, Flora delivered something very special to her fellow Bermudians, uniting them on a proud day for all Bermudians ; credit to you Flora….. you delivered the perfect script.

For full results go to http://www.triathlon.org

THE TYLERS DO BERMUDA PROUD

Tyler Butterfield and Tyler Smith may not have taken home any medals in today’s Men’s Commonwealth Games Triathlon, and they weren’t expected to, but what they did do is acquit themselves well in a fast and unforgiving race that featured many of the world’s top 10 triathletes.

In wet and blustery conditions, as expected England’s Brownlee brothers tried to once again break the field on the swim but only had a slender margin of 10 seconds as they went into the bike with South Africa’s Henri Shoeman in a group of 6. Tyler Smith got off to an excellent start emerging from the water with the second group that formed into a group of 12 chasing down the lead six.   By lap 2, however, he could not match the relentless pace set by the group that included three of the world’s top ranked triathletes and pre race favorites Richard Murray of South Africa, Jacob Birtwhistle of Australiaand and the talented New Zealander Ryan Sissons.

Tyler Butterfield exited the water over 40 secs down on the lead swimmers but used his renowned bike ability to power his way through the field and joined the younger Tyler at the end of the 2nd bike lap working with the youngster to hold their position in the field.

At T2 it was Schoeman who stormed out onto the run first of the leading six with close to a 30 sec lead on the chase pack. Jonathan Brownlee suprisingly had no answer to Schoeman and his brother Alistair, who has not been able to run properly for two months due to injury, quickly fell of the pace. Behind Schoeman, Scotland’s Marc Austin , having the race of his life, and Jonnny Brownlee ran side by side as last year’s junior triathlon world champ Matt Hauser  and New Zealand’s Tayler Reid also fell of the pace.

As Schoeman consolidated his lead Birtwhistle, Murray and Sissons began to ominously close the gap with Jonny Brownlee seemingly unable to lift the pace. Birstwhistle then moved ahead of Brownlee and Austin and it was Austin who went with him . Schoeman took gold in 52:31 ahead of a fast finishing Birtwhistle(52:38) one of only two athletes, along with Sissons , to break 15 minutes for the 5km run. Austin just hung on for a brilliant bronze medal whilst Hauser found a second wind to hold off Sissons by 3 seconds for fouth with Murray just behind Sissons in 6th. Jonny Brownlee could only manage 7th in what was a huge disappointment for England as their other potential medal contender Tom Bishop finished way down the field in 19th..

Tyler Butterfield and Tyler Smith entered T2 well down on the leaders and it was Butterfield who had the stronger run as he posted a 16;13 5km, a good effort after putting in so much work on the bike, to finish 18th in 55:51 in what will almost certainly be his last major games. Tyler Smith held on for 21st out of 36 starters in 56:41, a creditable performance in his first major games. Smith can be pleased that he beat out all of the small island competitors including Jason Wilson of the Bahamas who has had some strong top 20 performances at world cup level. He also finished ahead of Ireland’s James Edgar, a strong triathlete. He showed that he was not overawed by the field and with more racing in his legs he will be able to hold on to that lead group on the bike and be a competitive force in years to come, especially if he can work his run times down over the next few years.

Altogether it has been a spectacular day for Bermuda’s triathletes in these world class events and Flora’s gold medal was backed up by our other three triathletes ; the future looks bright for Bermuda on the world triathlon stage.

FOR FULL RESULTS AND TIME SPLITS GO TO WWW.TRIATHLON.ORG – RESULTS MENU – COMMONWEALTH GAMES AND THEN ELITE MEN AND ELITE WOMEN IN THE DROP DOWN MENU.

Attention now turns to Saturday’s team relay event in which all four of our triathletes will represent little Bermuda and take on some of the powerhouse triathlon nations in England,Australia, South Africa, Canada and New Zealand as well as Wales and Scotland. For Bermuda to be only one of 8 Commonwealth nations capable of entering a competitive team in this event is a huge achievement in itself and the fact that an island of 26 square miles have entered a team that can actually compete at this level is equally remarkable. It should be great to watch ! Bermuda is certainly not there just ot make up the numbers !

YOUNGSTER ERICA HAWLEY AN INCREDIBLE 16TH TO PUT THE ICING ON THE CAKE.

Erica Hawley New Plymouth WC 2018Erica Hawley’s performance at the 2018 Commonwealth Games Triathlon will inevitably be overshadowed by Flora’s gold medal performance, but take nothing away from the youngster who had a breakthrough performance today to cross the line in 16th place out of 24 starters.

Her position in the field was difficult to know as TV coverage focused on the leaders but just as the coverage was terminating Erica appeared on the screen running with South African triathlete, Gillian Sanders, a veteran outstanding triathlete who in July last year finished 15th in the World Cup event in Hamburg featuring the world’s best female triathletes. Sanders is currently ranked 29th in the world.

Erica’s performance was not lost on the commentators , who remarked on the extraordinary performance of Bermuda’s triathletes. Just behind Erica was Desiree Riedenour of Canada, a contemporary of Erica, who has consistently beaten Erica over the years.

Erica, you deserve it kiddo !!

FULL RESULTS AND MORE TO FOLLOW.

FLORA DUFFY TAKES GOLD

Flora world ranking
ADD COMMONWEALTH GAMES 2018 GOLD MEDALIST

Flora Duffy lived up to pre race expectations as she executed her game plan to perfection to become the first Bermudian woman, and only the 2nd Bermudian since Clarence “Nicky” Saunders, to take gold in the Commonwealth Games.

It all started to go to plan early in the swim as in a deja vu scenario England’s Jessica Leamonth set a blistering pace on the 750m swim with Flora and England’s Sophie Coldwell on her heels. Coldwell could not quite match the pace and with no wetsuits allowed and choppy conditions favoring the strong swimmers the gap between Leamonth and Flora and the chase group of other contenders grew to almost 30 seconds going into T1. Once again Leamonth and Flora found themselves taking turns at the front working to power away on the bike. Leamonth has taken her cycling up another notch which meant that Flora could take some breathers in her slipstream knowing that the gap between them and the 9 chasers would grow. By the end of the first of 5km laps on the bike the gap was up to close to 50 secs despite the chasers working well together and barring any mishaps it was becoming clear that the gold was at Flora’s fingertips. By transition into T2 the gap was up to 1 min 05 secs and only Learmonth could deny Flora the gold.

Learmonth , knowing that she could be caught , was quickly out of transition but within the first 1km Flora had opened up an 8 sec gap on Leamonth and looked comfortable as she matched the pace of the fastest runners in the chase group. Flora’s concentration was superb as she pounded out the run showing that her run is now a match for the best in the sport. She did not allow herself a smile until she reached the blue carpet when her familiar smile showed her elation at winning her first major games medal. In the end her margin over 2nd place was 53 secs, the biggest gap ever in a major women’s sprint triathlon event.

Learmonth held on well for 2nd, much to Flora’ delight knowing how much Leamonth had helped to secure her the gold. Canada’s Joanna Brown outsprinted Vicky Holland, the Olympic bronze medalist, to take an impressive 3rd place.

There was a time some years ago when Flora’s triathlon career seemed over when unexplained health problems afflicted her. After finishing last in a field of 75 triathletes it looked as if the promise Flora had shown when taking silver at the Junior World Championships in 2006 would not be realised. Bu that all started to change when she went to Boulder and since then with the fantastic support of her coach Neal Henderson and husband Dan Hugo and so many others she has come to dominate women’s  triathlon to an extent never really seen before. She is such a complete triathlete now, as her run showed today, that she has no weakness and her rivals must wonder what they can do to break her extroaordinary dominance.

To Flora, you have put in the hard work and done yourself, your country, your family and all how have supported you over the years proud. It has been a long journey since your first overseas race in Atlanta many years ago but boy was it worthwhile.

You deserve that gold medal – a massive congratulations to you.

THE FIRST GOLD OF THE COMMONWEALTH GAMES GOES TO BERMUDA WHO LEAD THE COMMONWEALTH GAMES MEDAL TABLE.

FLORA DUFFY – BERMUDA – 2018 COMMONWEALTH GAMES WOMEN’S TRIATHLON GOLD.

BERMUDA – THE ISLAND THAT NEVER STOPS SURPRISING THE WORLD OF TRIATHLON

Much of the Commonwealth Games attention this week will be focused on Flora Duffy and whether she can bring home the gold medal for Bermuda, but hopefully that will not detract too much attention from the other three members of our team, Tyler Butterfield, Tyler Smith and Erica Hawley.

The Commonwealth Games has always been known as the friendly, inclusive games where the standard required to compete at the games is far lower than in other major games or even world championship events.

It is therefore very pleasing to see that our triathlon team to these 2018 Commonwealth Games have truly earned their place on the start line by showing that they are infact world class triathletes who, whilst not necessarily contending for medals, certainly belong at this level of competition and are not there to make up the numbers. The fact that Bermuda is represented by four world class triathletes at such a major games is extraordinary and has not been lost on the triathlon world.

Tyler Butterfield needs no introduction having won a bronze medal at the 2002 Junior  World Championships, regional gold and other medals and numerous Ironman and Half Ironman professional race wins  (as well as top ten finishes at the Ironman and Half Ironman World Championships). He has also represented Bermuda well at Olympic and Commonwealth Games level. This will likely be his last appearance at a major games (Tyler finished 14th as a teenager in Manchester at his first Commonwealth Games – the first Commonwealth Games Triathlon) but after flying the flag for Bermuda for many years on the international triathlon circuit, it is fitting that he should join Flora and  two of our bright triathlon prospects at these games. At 36, and with his focus for many years now on the longer distances better suited to his endurance and experience, Tyler knows that he will not have the speed required to medal against many of the world’s leading specialists over this distance such as Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee (England), Henri Shoeman and Richard Murray (South Africa) , Ryan Sissons (NZ) and Jacob Birtshistle (Australia). He will however acquit himself well and will certainly be hoping for a top 20 finish.

Having just joined the senior triathlon ranks this year, Tyler Smith and Erica Hawley will be thrilled to line up against many of the world’s leading triathletes at a major games and hopefully they will use the adrenaline they feel at the start line to push them to solid performances. With no pressure on them they can  enjoy what will hopefully be the start of many more major games to come. They have been involved in the sport from a very young age and have years of experience lining up at world level junior races so that experience has prepared them well for this new challenge. In addition, they have both raced at at world senior level this year and they were certainly not out of their depth and will know that going into these games.

Tyler Smith produced a world class performance to finish 11th overall at the Junior Triathlon  World Championships in 2017, establishing himself as one of the world’s leading junior triathletes. He has now made the step up to the senior ranks but as he himself pointed out in an interview with the Royal Gazette this week, the gap now between the leading juniors in the world and the professionals has narrowed considerably. Matthew Hauser of Australia, The  2017 junior triathlon world champion, who will be on the start line with Tyler at these games, just recently took second place in the Mooloolaba World Cup Triathlon in March finishing just 4 seconds behind Richard Murray, currently ranked number 4 in the world. He will certainly be in contention for a medal in these games. Tyler will no doubt take inspiration from Hauser’s performance and with his own performance at the recent European Cup circuit race where he finished 18th amongst a strong professional field.

As is the norm now in these fast ITU races, so much will depend on Tyler’s position out of the swim with the likes of the Brownlee brothers setting a blistering pace to try and break up the field and drop the likes of Richard Murray before the run. Tyler though has had exceptional swims this year and if he can reproduce his best times over 750m in this race he could find himself in either the leading group or a second chase group. His next challenge will be to consolidate his position in the field as gaps will appear and the higher up the field he is going into T2 the better will be his chance going into the run. Although no slouch on the run, and with better times over 5km recently, Tyler knows that even if he finds himself towards the front half of the field, he will likely still be caught by some very fast runners and his final position will depend on where he is in relation to the field going out of T2 and whether he can set a personal best, or close to a best, on the run.

At a world junior elite level Erica Hawley has not enjoyed the success of Tyler but at both the past junior world championships, whilst performing creditably, she has not produced the results she has shown she is capable of when competing at a regional level against some leading world juniors. Her 40th place at the Junior World Championships last year was disappointing but she also produced some outstanding results, including winning the US collegiate championships. In 2018 she has had 8th and 13th place finishes at CAMTRI America Cup events and just recently was 31st at the New Plymouth Triathlon World Cup in a strong professional field that was her biggest challenge yet. I don’t think her result reflects her current level of fitness which is a good sign going into these games as Erica is the kind of athlete who sets herself high standards. Competing with her idol Flora for just the 2nd time, but in a much bigger setting, will also undoubtedly give her inspiration. With the quality of the field, Erica will be very hard pressed to come out of the swim at the front but will need to get out with a strong group of professionals near the front half of the field as, like with the men’s race, the wide diversity of ability will mean that there will be significant gaps opening up between the various groups. By T2, if Erica is able to get in with one of these leading groups then she will have a realistic chance of holding on to a respectable finish. Her run in New Plymouth of 19:45 for 5km was well short of her best so she will need to improve on that in order not to slip down the field.

No matter what the outcome of both the men and women races, the fact that Bermuda has put four world class athletes on the start line is an extraordinary achievement and testament to these athletes dedication and hard work and testament to the support they have received from their family, the tireless volunteers in the Bermuda triathlon family and the wonderful support of the Bermuda Government, sponsors and the International Triathlon Union who have worked so hard to promote talented athletes from smaller nations.

RACING GETS UNDERWAY WITH THE WOMEN’S RACE AT 8.30PM BERMUDA TIME TOMORROW, WEDNESDAY 4TH APRIL, WHICH IS OFCOURSE THURSDAY IN AUSTRALIA.

GO BERMUDA.

CORRECTION TO COMMONWEALTH GAMES POST

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A couple of corrections to my post on Flora Duffy’s race the Commonwealth Games Triathlon  :

The Commonwealth Games distances are infact 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run and not Olympic/ Standard distances as in past major games and world championships. The shorter swim will certainly be a factor in the race as it will give Flora less of an opportunity to open up a gap on the pack . However, Flora and one or two other triathletes has shown consistently that they can get away even in a sprint distance swim but the margins will be even tighter.

With Commonwealth Games splitting team GB (as shown on the ITU start lists)  into its separate entities ( England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland) Wales’ Non Stanford will not be able to count on the support of the English contingent although as she knows the English athletes so well she may well work with them anyway.

A LOOK AT THE KEY ASPECTS OF FLORA DUFFY’S RACE ON THURSDAY- CORRECTED VERSION

1200px-2018_Commonwealth_Games.svgFLORA SPECIALIZED BIKE PIC

We all know that Flora Duffy will start as a firm favorite to win Thursday’s Commonwealth Games Triathlon but what are some of the key factors that could affect the outcome of the race.

Preparation : Working with coach Neal Henderson and husband and mentor Dan Hugo as well as other specialists, Flora’s preparation for all of her races has always been meticulous. Free from injury and illness and seemingly with no lasting consequences from her spill in Abu Dhabi, Flora looks to be coming into these games extremely well prepared. Of particular interest will be to see where Flora’s run time is at, as in 2017 her running form changed noticeably and I don’t think we have seen the best of Flora off the bike yet.

Game plan : Flora and her crew will have examined all aspects of the course, including for example where to line up on the swim pontoon. Clearly Flora’s plan will be to do as she has done so many times before which is to split the field early on the swim and look to take a small group of three or four cyclists with her on the bike and open up as big a lead as possible on her main contenders going into the run. However if a larger group forms at the front, as happened in the Olympics, and that group includes some talented runners, Flora will need to assess whether to try and break that group up at some point or not take that risk and conserve her energy for the run knowing that towards the end of last season her run times matched the times of the best runners in the field. If the lead group out of T2 includes the lies of Gentle then it will take a time of around 16 minutes flat to win the race ; don’t put it past Flora to be in contention for gold if that is the scenario.

Confidence and handling the pressure :

Flora has shown time and again that she is not scared of taking on being favorite entering a race. The most obvious example of her confidence and determination to win was in Mexico at the 2016 World Championships when the Grand Final title and her ITU World Series title were on the line against the formidable Gwen Jorgensen. Unfazed, Flora blew the field away to take both titles.

After two years of dominating the sport Flora is certainly not lacking in confidence and has the experience now of handling the pressure. Major games do throw up surprises and the pressure is that much greater and she will need to stay calm and confident if the race does not pan out as planned.

The distances :

The fact that these games are over 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run is somewhat of a surprise as in previous major games and world championships the longer standard distance (or olympic distance as it is also known) has been used.

I am not sure who decided on the distances but the shorter swim will certainly favor the weaker swimmers but strong runners who will be hoping to limit the damage done on the swim and thus have more chance of reeling in any lead group that may form on the bike. However, Flora has shown on more than one occasion that she and the likes of  Jessica Learmoth and Sophie Coldwell can open up a gap on the swim / bike in the shorter sprint format even at this level of competition. The margins will be finer but expect Flora to do everything possible to get away on the bike. With her much improved run and more work on the run over the winter Flora will not fear the runners over 5km especially if she has made further strides in this discipline which I suspect she has.

Team tactics :

It is well known that governing bodies of the powerhouse nations in triathlon will insist that their athletes employ team tactics in major games. With so much government financial support contingent on results, a medal at these games is going to be uppermost in the mind of team coaches. Controversially, some deserving athletes have in the last been omitted from teams in favor of swim or cycling specialists capable of helping their leading contender(s) to position themselves in the best possible place going into the run.

If Flora goes into the bike with a one or more team GB or team Australia athletes who are not likely to beat Flora on the run then those athletes, as we have seen with team GB in the past, might be instructed to act as spoilers by going to the front and slowing Flora’s pace in order to allow their contenders to bridge the time gap before the run. Flora will however soon know if that is the tactic and if necessary will take long turns on the front or simply try and drop these athletes who will then be forced to give up team tactics in order to try for a medal podium.

Assuming that a small group does get away then countries such as England and Australia could well have strong cyclists sacrifice themselves to try and pace their main contenders up to the breakaway group. If there is a large group at the front after the swim that includes contenders then it will be that much more difficult for Flora as the stronger team cyclists will look to nullify any attempt by Flora and others to break away.

If Flora does get away with a group but is the strongest runner in that group ( a very possible scenario if history is anything to go on) then for the Australian and England teams the big question may be whether to possibly sacrifice the gold medal to Flora and be happy with silver and bronze for their athletes that may be in that lead group. If just one of those two teams doesn’t have an athlete in any small lead group then expect that team to work all out, even at the expense of one or more of their athletes, to bring one of their athletes into contention by T2. That scenario would see a number of stronger runners from other nations looking to use that move to also bridge up to the lead group.

The competition :

The only triathlete to beat Flora last year is Australia’s Ashleigh Gentle who hails from the Gold Coast and will be buoyed by the home crowd. Gentle is an outstanding runner and if she exits T2 with Flora, Flora’s chances of taking home gold will depend largely on whether her run as at a point now where she can match Gentle’s pace to the finish line. Gentle’s achilles heel has always been the swim and most pundits expect her to be well off the leaders out of the swim, perhaps by as much as 45 secs. If Gentle can produce the swim of a lifetime, especially with the shorter swim, or if team Australia are prepared to sacrifice the talented Gillian Backhouse and Charlotte McShane to bring Gentle to the front of the race on the bike then Gentle might well challenge Flora for the gold medal, but the effort on the bike might also significantly sap her legs going into the run. McShane , who took silver in the Grand Final in 2016, is a strong runner and Backhouse is a strong all round triathlete and expect McShane in particular to be a threat if she is in touch with Flora going out of T2.

A bigger threat might come from the team tactics and talent of the English team who have a powerful team of experienced and up and coming triathletes that make for a dangerous combination. Vicky Holland took bronze in the Rio Olympics and has 5 world cup wins to her name. Last year youngsters Sophie Coldwell and Jessica Learmoth were a revelation for team GB as they are outstanding swim / bike specialists. Learmouh goes into these games as a clear medal contender after taking bronze at the 2017 ITU Grand Final and gold at the 2017 European Championships. This year she took silver at the first ITU World Triathlon Series event in Abu Dhabi.  Learmoth has dramatically improved her run in 2017 and over the winter and is such a strong medal contender that if she gets away with Flora in a small group it is highly unlikely that the England coaches will call her back to help Holland who could well trail Flora, though perhaps not by much, out of the water. Holland is a strong runner but Flora can match her on the run . Sophie Coldwell has not produced the results that Learmoth has but is likely to emerge from the water with Flora and is a strong cyclist. If there is a sacrificial lamb on team England sent back to help Holland , in the event she trails out of the water, then it is likely to be Coldwell.

Non Stanford has been plagued by injuries in recent years but won the ITU Grand Final in 2015 and was a silver medalist in 2015 and showed with a 2nd place finish in a World Cup event in Cape Town this year that she is getting back to winning form. As she is competing for Wales she won’t be able to rely on her usual Team GB team support although as she is very close with the English athletes it would be no surprise if they team up to some extent to bring back Flora if she gets away.

Others to watch will be Australian Natalie Van Coeverden, who produced a strong all round perforance in Abu Dhabi to take bronze, Canada’s Joanna Brown and New Zealand’s veteran Andrea Hewitt. Hewitt has been slightly off the pace in 2018 but if she can come out of the water near the leaders she has the bike and run to collect another medal to add to her impressive collection. 22 year old Nicole Van der Kaay of New Zealand has impressed in March as well with 2nd in the New Plymouth World Cup and 4th in the Mooloolaba World Cup.

Luck and the weather : We all hope that luck does not come into the equation on Thursday but ofcourse the unexpected can always happen. Equipment failure, human error, weather conditions and how you are feeling on the day can all affect races.

As noted, as the sport has evolved into a race of attrition, the smallest of margins on the swim, just a handful of seconds, can make such a difference in a race that will last just around an hour. We will all be hoping that for Flora it will be a golden day.