Bermuda's Flora Duffy to Focus Longer Distances to Defend Olympic Triathlon Title

HAMILTON, Bermuda – Bermuda’s golden girl Dame Flora Duffy has announced she will focus on longer distances in a bid to boost her chances of successfully defending her Olympic triathlon title in Paris next year – which she describes as her “big goal”.

duffyFLOROlympic champions, Bermudian Flora Duffy.In addition to her Olympic title, Duffy has twice won Commonwealth Games gold, six Xterra World Championships and a record four World Triathlon Series Championships (WTSC), but was a notable absentee when the new WTCS season opened in Abu Dhabi last weekend.

Instead, the 35-year-old has signaled her intention to step up in distance and compete on the Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO) 100-kilometre Tour this season, which begins in Ibiza, Spain, on May 6, the Royal Gazette newspaper said.

“My whole life goal was to win at the Olympics, and I did that,” Duffy, the only Bermudian ever to win Olympic gold, said in a new PTO video feature on fulfilling her childhood dream in Tokyo in 2021. “Anything that I do in my career from now is icing on the cake.

“My goal for this year was to do some different types and styles of racing. I’ve only actually ever done one sort of longer-course race, and that was in the beginning of 2020, which feels like a lifetime ago because that’s pre-pandemic.

“Paris [2024 Olympic Games] is my big goal, but I would also love to jump into 100k distance.

“The distance is not what I’m comfortable with, but it’s new for me to be somewhere where I’m uncomfortable or unsure of how the race will play out for me.”

Despite her relative lack of experience over the longer format, which consists of a two-kilometer swim, an 80-kilometre bike ride and 18-kilometre run, Duffy heads into the campaign 12th in the PTO rankings after encouraging displays at the 70.3 World Championships, US Open and Collins Cup displays last season. She also won Ironman 70.3 South Africa in January 2020.

Duffy is aware that she will be in the unfamiliar position of underdog on the tour, which boasts a star-studded line-up headed by Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf, a five-time winner of the Ironman World Championships and Ironman 70.3 World Championships.

“I come in as the reigning Olympic, World and Commonwealth champion and I guess my reputation precedes me a little bit,” added Duffy, who was beaten by Ryf in the opening race of the Collins Cup series in Bratislava, Slovakia in August last year.

“For me, I haven’t proven myself over this distance at all. I’ve done one race and to be perfectly honest, it wasn’t the best performance at all. So I think I have a lot to prove that I can race well at this distance.”

Despite Duffy’s reservations, Ryf, also 35, says she is sure the Bermudian will cope with the transition to the longer distance after observing her incredible success over the past few years.

“I raced her back when we were juniors, and it’s amazing to see how she has developed as an athlete,“ Ryf said.

“She had amazing races and then was also for a while, I think, struggling. It’s really impressive how she turned around and really brought up this amazing career.

“The last couple of years, she’s just been absolutely brilliant. She improved that performance when it really counts. When the pressure is on, some people crack, Flora won’t crack, she’s very tough.”