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Hill throws weight behind Duffy’s medal bid

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End the drought: Hill will be willing Duffy to become Bermuda’s second Olympic medal winner (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Clarence Hill has thrown his support behind Flora Duffy and backed her to deliver a knockout performance in Rio and win Bermuda’s first Olympic medal in 40 years.

Hill remains Bermuda’s greatest Olympian as the only athlete to achieve a podium finish, claiming bronze in heavyweight boxing at the 1976 Montreal Games.

The 65-year-old believes Bermuda’s medal drought has gone on too long and would love to have triathlete Duffy join him in the island’s most exclusive sporting club.

Duffy has not had the best of luck at the Olympics, and after failing to finish in Beijing in 2008, crashed in London four years later while leading the chase group and finished 45th.

She has a serious chance of winning a medal in Rio, however, and presently tops the world rankings after a series of scintillating displays this season.

“It’s been a long time,” Hill said. “I didn’t think it would be this long and I would love to see Flora Duffy win an Olympic medal.

“Athletes strive to get to the point where they can win an Olympic medal and if Flora Duffy can win a medal, I’m all for it.

“Any Bermudian who goes to the Olympics looking to win gold, silver or bronze, well, I’m, all for it. I really hope Flora does it.”

Bermuda, still the smallest country by population to have won an Olympic medal, has had several close calls since Hill’s Montreal triumph.

Perhaps the most unfortunate of all were sailors Peter Bromby and Lee White whose medal hopes were torpedoed in the final race of the regatta in Sydney 2000 when they seemed certain to earn a place on the podium and had to settle for fourth.

Other notable Olympic performances include tornado sailors Chris Burland and Alan Nash who took fifth in Los Angeles in 1984, as did Brian Wellmann in the triple jump in Barcelona in 1992.

Despite being the only sport to have put Bermuda on the Olympic map, Hill feels boxing does not get the respect it deserves and believes it can help alleviate some of the island’s social ills.

“I’ve been training young men and trying to talk to them about training right,” Hill added. “But a lot of these guys are not mentally prepared for the Olympics.

“Plus, the competition we have in Bermuda does not gear them up for the Olympics. You can’t just send these guys out there because they will get hurt.

“This country spends all this money on cricket, football and the America’s Cup, but none of those sports have won an Olympic medal.

“Boxing has won an Olympic medal and boxing has put Bermuda on the map at the Olympic Games.”

Hill admits he has had his struggles outside of the ring and was convicted of various offences and spent time in jail after he hung up his gloves.

He believes his story may have been slightly different, however, had he received more Government support on his return from the Olympics.

“I represented my country, held my country’s flag in the opening ceremony and returned with a medal for them,” he said.

“Not taking anything away from Flora or her athleticism, but I wonder what the country would do if she wins a medal.

“I’m waiting to see that. I’m not being negative, but if Flora wins a medal I do wonder how she will be treated.”

Still got it: Hill lends his experience with young boxers at Controversy Gym in Hamilton (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)