Crowds roar on triathlete Flora
Flora Duffy might have fallen short of a spot on the Olympic podium, but a crowd of supporters at Docksiders cheered as though she had taken the gold.
“It's incredible for someone from an island this small to make it to the Olympics, much less finish in the top ten,” said Richard Douglas, who was among those celebrating Ms Duffy's eighth-place finish.
“We all hoped she would win a medal, but it is amazing to see what she did accomplish.”
“She's a national hero,” Sarah Lopes added. “She might not have won, but she was right up there with the best in the world. We couldn't be prouder of her.”
More than 100 people crowded into the back room at Docksiders to watch the event, many wearing “Go Flora Go” shirts or carrying Bermuda flags.
From the very start of the coverage, the crowd was enraptured, cheering every time Ms Duffy was mentioned by the commentators or seen on the screen. While she faded from visibility during the starting swim, she was greeted with applause when she emerged from the water near the front of the pack.
The cheers only became louder as she rushed to the lead in the 40km cycling segment of the race, her bright green helmet standing out as she jockeyed for position.
Even as she slipped slightly further in the pack, people remained on the edge of their seats. When the screen flashed to another event, or to black owing to the sometimes-faltering reception, many people produced their phones and iPads, watching the race via the Bermuda Broadcasting Company's Rio 2016 app.
While the crowd became quiet as hopes of a place on the Olympic podium faded during the running segment of the race as eventual winner Gwen Jorgensen and silver medallist Nicola Spirig-Hug pulled further ahead, cheers erupted again as Ms Duffy approached the finish line in eighth place, just two minutes behind the front-runners.
The finish was the closest Bermuda has come to winning a second Olympic medal since the 2000 Games in Sydney, when sailors Peter Bromby and Lee White narrowly missed a spot on the podium.
Even without a medal, her supporters applauded Ms Duffy's remarkable performance.
Aesher Smith said: “She did the island proud. Flora was right at the front of the pack right up until the run started.
“I had hoped she would bring home a medal, and it looked like she would for a while, but finishing eighth is just amazing. She beat a lot of people who had a lot more money to put into training and had a lot more support than she did.”
Meanwhile, Thomas Flood said: “Just seeing a Bermudian in the lead was enough for me. It shows just what we can accomplish if we put our mind to something.
“Seeing a Bermudian do that, going toe-to-toe with that kind of competition, it's inspirational.”
Last night former parliamentarian Quinton Edness called for Ms Duffy to be formally honoured for her achievements, saying: “I think Flora Duffy should be given a damehood. At least she should receive a CBE for all that she has done and all she is achieving for herself and her country.
“She has brought herself and the island glory with her accomplishments. She has told the world what a wonderful country Bermuda is and she represents it well, and she achieved what most people would never do by finishing in the top ten at the Olympics.”