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‘I felt like I had the brake on all the way’

Bermuda's 40-year wait for an Olympic Games medal will continue for at least another four years after Flora Duffy was unable to force her way onto the podium in Rio on Saturday.

Duffy emerged as a “dark horse” for a medal with a slew of superb performances this season catapulting her to the top of the world rankings.

She admits it would have been “really cool” to win a medal and although the race did not unfold the way she envisaged, Duffy should be mightily proud of her eighth-place finish at the scenic Copacabana Beach.

The 28-year-old finished in 1hr 58min 25sec, some two minutes behind Gwen Jorgensen, the pre-race favourite from the United States, who claimed gold in 1:56:16.

Nicola Spirig-Hug, the defending champion from Switzerland, came second in 1:56:56, while Vicky Holland outsprinted Non Stanford, her Great Britain team-mate, to finish third in 1:57:01.

“I know everyone was hoping I'd get a medal but there are only three of them and it doesn't work out like that sometimes,” Duffy said.

“A lot of people were throwing my name out there as a dark horse and I just tried to stay out of the limelight.

“I've had a great season so far and I'm not upset with eighth. That's just all I had today.”

Duffy knew she would have to execute a strong swim and bike to be in striking distance of challenging for the island's first medal since Clarence Hill won bronze in boxing at the Montreal Olympics in 1976.

Sitting pretty in eleventh position after the 1.5 kilometres swim, Duffy would have felt confident the hilly 40km bike would play to her advantage as one of the sport's standout cyclists.

Although she led for the first two of eight laps, Duffy was never able to put any significant daylight between herself and the leading runners such as Jorgensen, who usually wins her races by chasing down the stronger cyclists.

On the fourth lap a desperate Duffy mounted another breakaway but could not find the assistance she needed and was once again hauled back into a bunched-up pack.

“It was kind of a weird race and it turned out a little different to how I thought it would,” said Duffy, who finished the swim in 19:08, the bike in 1:21:29 and the run in 36:15.

“It was one of those days when some of the not-so-good swimmers had great swims and were in the lead group.

“We were all together in the bike and I tried to get away but it just didn't work out. I felt like I had the handbrake on all of the way.”

Duffy found herself in ninth at the start of the 10km run with her medal chances subsiding quicker than the midday sun.

Still, she dug deep despite “not having her best day” and successfully chased down Claudia Rivas, of Mexico, towards the end of the final lap.

“I've had races like this before when you're not feeling good and don't think you're where you should be,” she said.

“In the past I've broken down and I'm pretty happy that I stayed strong and fought for every position.

“I was running in ninth until the last 600 metres and I went for eighth, which is kind of trivial at that point.

“But it's good I had that urge to keep going. To stay mentally tough was great for me today.”

Jorgensen, who has been the dominant force in triathlon for the past two years, eventually broke Spirig-Hug's resolve on the bell lap.

She embraced Duffy shortly after the Bermudian crossed the finish line and offered a few words of comfort for her ITU World Triathlon Series rival.

“Gwen and I are pretty good friends,” Duffy said. “I respect her a lot for what she's done.

“I think she knew I was a little off today. If I'm on the bike and not drilling it, or off the front causing some sort of chaos, everyone's like, ‘OK, Flora's sitting in, there's something going on not quite right there'.

“Gwen just gave me a big hug and said, ‘I'm sorry Flora, I knew it wasn't your day'.”

Not her day: Duffy, normally so dominant on the bike, could not break free of the pack in Rio (Photograph by Janos M Schmidt/International Triathlon Union)

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Published August 22, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated August 22, 2016 at 7:48 am)

‘I felt like I had the brake on all the way’

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