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.