Key challengers to triathletes’ dominance
Bermuda's finest athletes of the past 12 months will be honoured for their achievements at the annual Sports Awards Ceremony at the Fairmont Southampton tomorrow night.
For the past five years triathletes Flora Duffy and Tyler Butterfield have reigned supreme as the Male and Female Athletes of the Year and will sure to be among the front-runners for the evening's top awards.
Although 2019 was far from Duffy's most triumphant year, having missed the first eight months because of a career-threatening injury, she still had sufficient time to add another world title to her collection after winning her fifth Xterra World Championship in Kapalua, Hawaii, in October.
Duffy had only returned to the sport two months earlier after 14 months on the sidelines, having made her long-awaited return at the Tokyo Olympic Test Event in August, winning in controversial fashion after British leaders Jessica Learmonth and Georgia Taylor-Brown were disqualified for causing a deliberate tie.
The Bermudian followed that up with a solid performance at the World Triathlon Series Grand Final in Lausanne, Switzerland, finishing fifth, before winning the Banyoles ITU World Cup in the north of Spain and the Beijing International Triathlon.
Among those challenging for Duffy's throne as the undisputed queen of Bermudian sport will likely be wheelchair sprinter Jessica Lewis and cyclist Caitlin Conyers.
Lewis enjoyed a superb 2019, winning three of her events at the Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru in August, claiming gold in the T53 100 metres and 400, and silver in the 800. She also blitzed her previous Parapan 100 record of 17.67 sec, set at the Toronto Games in 2015, crossing the line in 17.36.
Lewis narrowly missed out on another medal in the 100 at the World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai in November, finishing just shy of the podium in fourth.
Meanwhile, Conyers emerged as the surprise success story for Bermuda at the Pan American Games after a pair of superb displays in her two events.
It is fair to say that Conyers truly announced herself on the international stage in Lima, finishing seventh in the time-trial before placing tenth in the road race. She then built on her reputation-enhancing summer by capturing gold in the time-trial at the Caribbean Cycling Championships in Havana, Cuba, in November
Butterfield also enjoyed a commendable season, winning the Mazda Ironman 70.3 Cozumel in Cozumel, Mexico, in October, clocking an overall time of 7:44:1 to become one of just a handful of triathletes to break the 7:45 barrier for the four-kilometre swim, 180km bike and 42km run. His time was the second fastest in history over that distance, in an Ironman-branded race.
He also shattered his own national marathon record at the Lake Biwa Marathon in Otsu, Shiga, Japan, in March, finishing in 2:21:47 to finish in 60th position, bettering his previous best of 2:26:29.
Another athlete in the frame for the Male Athlete of the Year award is Delray Rawlins, who balanced his year between English County Cricket with Sussex and international commitments for Bermuda.
Domestically, Rawlins's high-water mark came against Lancashire in a Specsavers County Championship second division match at Emirates Old Trafford in July, scoring a maiden century, stroking 100 off 99 balls.
The all-rounder also helped Bermuda clinch their spot in the final round of the ICC World T20 Qualifier in Dubai, scoring 63 in his Twenty20 international debut against United States at White Hill Field in August.
Another possible outsider in the male category could be show jumper Philip Correia, who secured first place for Regional Zone 10 of the 2018 FEI Jumping World Challenge to qualify for the finals held in Quito, Ecuador, in September.
The battle for the Junior Female Athlete of the Year should also be hotly contested, with long-distance runner Isabella Dutranoit, swimmer Elan Daley and footballer Nia Christopher sure to be among the nominations. Meanwhile, athletes Nirobi Smith-Mills and Nathan Armstrong, golfer Kenny Leseur and sailor Christian Ebbin will likely be the contenders for the Junior Male of the Year award.