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Duffy’s no dark horse she’s the real deal

Flora Duffy will look to become Bermuda's “Superwoman” when she chases a podium finish at the Olympic Games in tomorrow's women's triathlon.

She is ranked No 1 in the International Triathlon Union world rankings and is among the medal favourites along with faster-than-a-speeding-bullet Gwen Jorgensen of the United States.

Duffy arrived in Rio in top form after winning both the ITU World Triathlon Series in Stockholm in July and this month's World Cup in Montreal — and admits she hopes she has “not hit her rise too early”.

The 28-year-old could be forgiven for feeling slightly apprehensive ahead of her event.

After all, the Olympics have so far been like kryptonite to the island's sporting superhero.

She suffered the lowest point of her career in Beijing in 2008 when she failed to finish and took two years off from competing to rebuild her shattered confidence.

Duffy returned to “the greatest show on earth” in a far better place both mentally and physically in London in 2012, but crashed her bike in front of Buckingham Palace while leading the chase group, finishing a less than regal 45th.

A debilitating combination of chronic loss of form, ill health and horrendous misfortune has beset Duffy at the worst possible times.

Just as the Caped Crusader becomes immobilised when exposed to the deadly green radiation, it seems Duffy also has her once infallible powers neutered when she competes at the Olympics.

Perhaps not wishing to tempt fate, she has kept a low profile since arriving in Copacabana with her family on Monday.

And who could blame her. She knows she may never get a better chance to win an Olympic medal and a first for Bermuda in 40 years.

Duffy has ruthlessly cut out all distractions in the past few years and it has certainly paid off.

She started last season with a victory in the Cape Town ATU Sprint Triathlon Cup and achieved a milestone less than a month later when she came third in Abu Dhabi — her first WTS podium place.

Adding three more top-five WTS finishes, including second in Edmonton, Duffy came an impressive seventh in the Columbia Threadneedle rankings as well as claiming bronze at last summer's Pan Am Games in Toronto and winning the Sardegna Cross Triathlon World Championships.

Duffy, who splits her time between Boulder, Colorado, and Stellenbosch, South Africa, has emerged as a genuine force this season.

Aside from her victories in Stockholm and Montreal, she came fourth in Abu Dhabi and in the Gold Coast, and third in Cape Town.

Those results certainly make for pleasant reading, with Duffy firmly in the medal mix along with Nicola Spirig of Switzerland, Andrea Hewitt of New Zealand, and Non Stanford and Helen Jenkins of Britain.

Although the hilly course at Fort Copacabana could favour Duffy, she maintains she is a “dark horse” to finish on the podium and will be delighted with a top-five position.

Judy Simons, the Bermuda Olympic Association president, has no doubt that Duffy at her best can achieve medal glory.

“I'm not going to put any pressure on Flora,” she said. “We know what she's capable of. Let's hope she feels great and gets the job done.”

Carlos Lee, Bermuda's chef de mission, said the island's entire Olympic team will attend Duffy's competition to cheer her on.

“Flora is in the best form of her life,” he said. “She's proven at the top level, No 1 in the rankings and Sports Illustrated has projected her as a medal favourite. We'll all be out there cheering for her.”

Duffy will be hoping third time's a charm in Rio. A medal of any colour would be out of this world for Bermuda's “Woman of Steel”.

Medal favourite: Duffy's performances this year have catapulted her into the eyes of the world and made her many people's pick to finish in the top three in Rio on Saturday

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Published August 19, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated August 19, 2016 at 7:39 am)

Duffy’s no dark horse she’s the real deal

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