Duffy: I hope I inspire young Bermudians
Flora Duffy hopes her gold-medal heroics will help to inspire the island’s next generation of athletes to believe anything is possible.
Duffy etched her name into the annals of Bermudian sporting history after becoming the first woman to medal at the Commonwealth Games.
She also joined Clarence “Nicky” Saunders, who won the high jump at the 1990 Auckland Games, as the island’s only gold medal-winners at the third-largest multi-sport event.
“It’s incredible and I hope I’m inspiring young Bermudians,” said Duffy, who crossed the finish line proudly draped in the Bermuda flag. “It’s pretty cool and it’s going to take a while for it to soak in. I was pretty tired at the finish and it’s hard for my emotions to come out at the moment.”
The 30-year-old said she was aware she had the hopes of a nation resting on her shoulders during yesterday’s race.
“It’s not like we churn out a medal-winner every four years,” Duffy said. “I knew I wasn’t expected to win a silver or bronze; I knew gold was what I wanted.
“You get all this extra noise and you have to forget about that. I do this every other week in between those four years and it’s the same girls I compete against.”
The reigning two-times world champion admits the extra attention she now attracts, particularly in Bermuda, can be jarring at times.
However, she cannot wait to return home to celebrate her victory with friends and family before racing in the ITU World Triathlon Bermuda.
“It’s a privilege and [the attention] is pretty cool, but I’m a bit more of an introvert,” Duffy said. “When I go home and everybody knows who I am, it can get a little much for me.
“They have just hung this 50-foot poster of me as you come into town ahead of the next round of the WTS series. My high-school friends crack up!”
Duffy returns to action tomorrow in the mixed team relay, where she will join Tyler Butterfield, Tyler Smith and Erica Hawley in a super sprint-distance race.
The three-times Olympian will perform the third leg before handing over to Butterfield, with Hawley charged with getting Bermuda off to a solid start.
“The mixed relay is just going to be so much fun,” said Duffy, who is also competing in the mountain bike on Thursday. “I suppose it’s quite special that we’re all in different stages of our careers and we get to compete on the same team. This might be the only time we can do this at the Commonwealth Games, so that in itself is really special. The mountain bike is just an experience and out of my comfort zone.”
Judy Simons, the Bermuda Olympic Association president, said watching Duffy’s moment of glory has been the highlight of her ten-year tenure.
“The first female gold medal ever for Bermuda,” a tearful Simons said after the race. “She just broke away in the run. Her strategic plan must have worked to perfection.
“I couldn’t be prouder for her and the country at large. I think the little hiccup she had in Abu Dhabi [when Duffy crashed out on a slippery corner in the opening WTS race last month] made her refocus. She deserves all the accolades that come her way. Who could have thought during my tenure we’d have someone podium? She just proved her No 1 was justified.”
Katura Horton-Perinchief, the Bermuda chef de mission, was a team-mate of an 18-year-old Duffy at the 2006 Melbourne Games.
The former diver said: “What an honour to be here and watch this. To see her go from a teenager at the Melbourne Games to winning it all is incredible. She’s the best in the world. All she had to do was turn it on in front of this crowd.”
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