Pure gold Flora to touch down to a hero’s welcome today
Olympic gold medal-winner Flora Duffy will return home today for the first time since her triumph at the Tokyo Games in July.
The star athlete is expected to arrive to a hero’s welcome when her flight from the US touches down at the airport this afternoon.
Dignitaries last night queued up to pay tribute to Ms Duffy, the island’s first Olympic champion – and appealed to the public to show their appreciation by turning out to cheer.
David Burt, the Premier, said that Ms Duffy had given the island joy despite the Covid-19 crisis.
He said: “It is a fitting tribute to have a day to recognise and honour Flora Duffy's historic accomplishments.
“Flora gave her fellow Bermudians lasting memories and filled us with immense pride as she took on some of the world's greatest athletes, from countries much larger than our own and yet was convincingly victorious in the triathlon event.
“Her achievements throughout her career have propelled Bermuda on to the international stage.
“She took this a step further on 27 July 2021 at the Tokyo Olympics when she wrote Bermuda into the history books as the smallest country ever to win a gold medal.”
Mr Burt added: “Flora is a true champion and we look forward to welcoming her home, celebrating with her, her fans and all of those she has inspired, and thanking her for what she has done for her country."
Mr Burt was backed by Cole Simons of the One Bermuda Alliance and the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr Simons said: “We ran alongside her, step by step and cheered her on to victory.
“Someone once said that success doesn’t just come to you – you have to go and get it and that’s exactly what she did.
“Moment by moment, running the track, swimming in frigid waters and cycling for miles and miles for days, for months and years, she pushed past the pain of training, faced fierce competitors along the way, and kept going.
“Today she is an inspiration to us all.”
Mr Simons added that “Flora's tenacity, her fortitude, her passion, and most deservedly, her excellence” had earned the highest honours.
Charles Gosling, the Mayor of Hamilton, said the Freedom of the City to be given to Ms Duffy represented “a symbolic gesture of honour, freedom and respect, which is only bestowed upon trusted individuals”.
He added: “In order to be eligible to receive a Key to the City of Hamilton, the individual must have made an outstanding achievement in sport, community or humanitarian work and be in good moral standing in the community.
“I can think of no other person as suited to receive this honour than Flora.
“Flora’s monumental win marked an astounding moment of ‘firsts’ for Bermuda – the first time Bermuda has won a gold medal at the Olympics, the first time a Bermudian female has won a medal at the Olympics and it also makes Bermuda the least populated nation in Olympic history to ever win a gold medal at the Summer Olympics.
“Not only is Flora an exceptional athlete, she is also an exemplary human being.”
Ms Duffy will be met with a motorcade when her plane touches down at 2pm.
The triumphal procession will take Ms Duffy along North Shore on to Middle Road and South Road and Tee Street in Devonshire.
The motorcade will continue to the Paget traffic lights, along Middle Road to Manse Road, and on to Harbour Road.
Ms Duffy will take a trip down memory lane to Warwick Academy, her former school, by Morgan’s Road.
The parade will stop off at the Cabinet Office on Front Street at about 2.45pm for an outdoor presentation.
Ms Duffy will rejoin the motorcade afterwards and travel to City Hall, where she is expected to arrive at 3.30pm to be awarded the Freedom of the City.
More events to celebrate Ms Duffy’s stellar performance at the Tokyo Games in the summer will be held on October 18 – Flora Duffy Day and a one-off holiday – including a renaming ceremony at the National Sports Centre’s South Field, when it will become the Flora Duffy Stadium.
A government spokeswoman appealed to members of the public to show their support for Ms Duffy – but to observe Covid-19 precautions throughout the celebrations.