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Proud Duffy sets sights on world titles

Flora Duffy said she was proud of her top-ten finish despite having “an off day” in the women's triathlon at the Olympic Games.

Duffy was a genuine medal contender but had to settle for eighth, finishing some two minutes behind Gwen Jorgensen, who won the United States' first gold in triathlon.

Not bad for an off day, especially considering the heartache and misfortune Duffy endured at her previous two Olympics.

She suffered the biggest disappointment of her career when she failed to finish in Beijing in 2008 and crashed in London four years later while leading the chase group to place 45th.

Although Duffy was far from her best on Saturday — she headed into Rio in fine form after winning the ITU World Triathlon Series in Stockholm and World Cup in Montreal — she still produced one of the top Olympic finishes by a Bermudian.

“Coming into the Olympics I thought, ‘If this and that happens I'm running for a medal', Duffy said.

“I knew there was a lot of opportunity if I played my cards right, but it just didn't work out like that.

“I was eighth on an off day and I'm very happy with that. It's the Olympics and if you don't get in the top three no one cares. I'm really proud, though, and I hope everyone in Bermuda is.”

Duffy said she was almost relieved to come through her third Olympics unscathed and believes she laid down an important marker for the Tokyo Games in 2020.

By then she will be 32, still two years younger than Switzerland's Nicola Spirig who became the first woman to win two Olympic medals after adding silver to the gold she won in London.

“In London I crashed and in Beijing I didn't finish, so I don't have the greatest track record at the Olympics,” Duffy said.

“I think this is a big breakthrough for me. Nicola is 34 and was second today, so I think I can keep going for another four years.”

Duffy admits her elevation from rank outsider to medal hopeful after her scintillating displays over the past two years took her by surprise.

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

“At the start of the year I thought if I had a great day at the Olympics then sixth to tenth was where I was at,” she said.

“But because I've raced so well this year I got placed in that medal category without me even processing it. That took me a little bit of time to comprehend.

“I had to work with what I had today, which wasn't quite much, but even in this situation I knew I could run for bronze.

“If I'd had a great day then maybe it would have been different.”

Duffy has no time to dwell on her Olympic showing.

She returns to action on September 3 in the WTS in Edmonton, where she came second last year, looking to preserve her lead at the top the world rankings.

With two races to go, Duffy, who has 3491 points, leads Jodie Stimpson, of Britain, in second on 3146, and Jorgensen, the two-times defending champion, in third on 3025. There are 800 points available for finishing first in a WTS race, 740 for second, 685 for third and 633 for coming fourth.

“I still have a chance to win three world titles this year,” said Duffy, the defending Xterra Series and ITU Cross Triathlon world champion.

“I'm not sure what Gwen is doing. She just won the Olympics so hopefully she won't care about the series. Hopefully we can trade things a little here.”

Big breakthrough: Duffy exits the water during Saturday's race in Rio (Photograph by Gregory Bull/AP)

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Published August 22, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated August 22, 2016 at 7:44 am)

Proud Duffy sets sights on world titles

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