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WAS PRETTY BIG YEAR
Olympics Gold, winning my third World Championship title and then finishing top of the podium at XTERRA Worlds. It was my best year ever in triathlon.
Of course it wasn’t easy to get there, with lots of ups and downs along the way. Firstly, the uncertainty was pretty tricky to deal with in the lead up to the Olympics, with so much talk about whether it would happen or not. I also had a back injury in April,
Flora rounded off a magical year with a sixth XTERRA world title.
which could have gone either way, but we figured it out and I thankfully didn’t lose too much training – but it was a highly stressful time because you don’t want to be injured four months out from the Olympics, especially when you’re going there with the expectation of winning a medal. Luckily everything came together for those final seven to eight weeks of training. I was based in Boulder, Colorado, and had a great group of people around me to train with.
On race day in Tokyo we woke up to typhoon-like conditions. Well, the typhoon was passing far away and it was safe to race, but it was windy, raining and cooler than expected. It was still plenty warm and humid, but not the bright sunshine, blue sky, super hot and humid day that we were expecting – and what the men had had the day before. I had to adapt quickly to what the conditions threw at me. But at the end of the day it’s swim bike run – and that’s what I know to do best.
I had a race plan – and luckily plan A worked out. I had various scenarios of how I would race or react given how it played out. I had a great swim and found myself in the front group. Pretty early on
I realised that the medals were going to come from that group because of what the gap was back to the chase pack.
The main thing during the bike leg was just to stay on my bike. It was a very technical course and it was still raining and very slick. I stayed focused, rode within myself and did the right amount of work that was needed. I knew I didn’t need to overextend myself because the gap that we had to the chase pack was more than adequate.
On the run I took it out fairly hard and got settled into a rhythm. I went ahead early, and with 5km to go I had a pretty sizable gap and I felt great, so I knew only some sort of catastrophe was going to stop me from winning. It was a hard last 5km in the sense of trying not to think about the fact that I was going to win and just focusing on anything else.
It is a pretty special and surreal experience to cross the line first and win gold. I suppose the only downside was that there were no fans, and family and friends couldn’t be there. However I was very well supported by Team Bermuda and my husband Dan Hugo was there.
Flora received a hero’s welcome in her home nation after the Olympics.
Corkscrew Hill, a well-known landmark where Duffy went clear in the 2018 WTS Bermuda event, was renamed after her; a limited-edition rum titled ‘Flora Gold’ was launched; and 18 October 2021 became a national holiday in recognition of her victory in Tokyo. To top it off she was made Dame Flora in the Queen’s New Year Honours List, being recognised for her exceptional contribution to sport in Bermuda and becoming the first person from a British Overseas Territory to win an Olympic gold medal.