THE local triathlon fraternity is basking in the glory after Flora Duffy, 33, from the tiny island of Bermuda stood tall to win gold in the women’s triathlon event at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, on Monday evening (TT time).
Duffy hails from a country with a population of approximately 64,000, roughly the same size as Tobago. She won gold in one hour, 55 minutes and 36 seconds (1:55:36) in the event held at Odaiba Marine Park.
In the event, participants are required to swim 1,500 metres, ride 40 kilometres and run 10K.
Georgia Taylor-Brown of Great Britain took silver in 1:56:50 and American Katie Zaferes grabbed bronze in 1:57:03 in the field of 54 athletes.
Nine-time national triathlon champion Jason Gooding got a front row view of Duffy’s feat as he is a triathlon official (assistant swim) in Tokyo.
Gooding, who was impressed with Duffy’s showing, also said his late father Ian would have loved to witness Duffy’s heroic effort.
“I know for the last few years she has been doing really well and getting up there. I remember my dad always was impressed with her ever since she started,” Gooding said.
Gooding, the organiser of the annual Rainbow Cup in Tobago, said Duffy seemed poised for a memorable showing at the Olympics.
“I have seen posts with her training so it looked like she was set to do well…that is always good to see people from the Caribbean doing so well and females especially doing so well.”
Gooding said the times women are clocking recently in triathlon are “incredible.”
“It is good to see somebody that you have seen all through the years ultimately get an Olympic gold because at the end of the day that is what every professional athlete aspires to be at the Olympic Games.”
Gooding said Duffy can motivate the next generation of triathletes.
“Every time you see somebody that is closer related that way being part of the Caribbean (it can inspire)…smaller island vibe. It shows that it does not matter where you come from and what you do once you are determined and once you have the will and the drive to succeed you can go places.”
Gooding also reflected on former Jamaican triathlete Iona Wynter who paved the way for women in the sport regionally.
Vice-president of the TT Triathlon Federation Karen Araujo could not contain her excitement.
“(I am) totally excited, totally stoked. Like I said it was a big win for the Caribbean especially as a woman because we fight so hard to highlight women in sport…triathlon especially, it’s such a male dominated sport because of the fact that it is an endurance sport, but the women are stepping up to the plate and they are giving those men a good run for their money,” Araujo said.
Araujo is also a member of the Association of Commonwealth Triathlon and is a board member on the Pan American Triathlon Confederation.
Duffy was resilient in her journey to Olympic gold after making her debut at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
At that edition of the Games she did not finish, before finishing 45th at the 2012 London Olympics.
Duffy started to showcase her class in the event at the 2016 Rio Olympics when she placed eighth.
“You have to appreciate the work and the fact that she has that underneath her belt. The fact that she has been to four Olympics…she understands race tactics which is something anybody (can admire),” Araujo said.
Araujo did not sit down while looking at the 10K leg of the race, which is the final leg of a triathlon event.
“I was standing at the point in time when she was on her run. I think I stood for the entire 10K.”
Speaking about what Duffy’s accomplishment could do for youngsters, especially girls, Araujo said, “The hope is that young women coming up in the ranks will take the lead from her and recognise even she started somewhere.”
President of the TT Triathlon Federation Derek Daniel said Duffy is being rewarded for her passion and commitment to the sport.
“Flora has been someone who has put development always in front of her. Even though she is competing at the top level in the world right now she always gives back. It’s admirable and it is great to see that all her hard work has finally paid off. It has put the Caribbean as a whole on the map. It is a phenomenal accomplishment for somebody from such a small country and particularly for us in the Caribbean for the sport of triathlon.”
Daniel also thinks that Duffy’s achievement could serve as a motivator.
“I am pretty sure she is going to inspire a lot of athletes not just females only, but males and females to pursue the sport and to take it to that next step.”
Daniel, who called Duffy the “Usain Bolt of Bermuda,” sent a congratulatory message to the Bermuda Triathlon Association.