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Duffy has no time to rest on her laurels

Dream come true: Duffy has a busy few months ahead with two more world championship title races on the horizon (Photograph by Aaron Smith)

Having “stamped her authority” on the triathlon world with the most convincing performance of her career, the past week has been a bit of a blur for Flora Duffy.

She etched her name into the annals of Bermudian sporting history by winning the Grand Final Cozumel in Mexico to secure the ITU World Triathlon Series title last weekend.

With two more titles up for grabs this season, both of which she is defending champion, Duffy has had little time to bask in her glory since returning to Boulder, Colorado, and admits the subsequent few days have been slightly overwhelming.

“Immediately after I crossed the line I had media obligations, the podium, loads of people asking to take photos with me, and then doping control,” Duffy said.

“It took a while for me to get back to my hotel that night! It’s fine though, all part of winning, I suppose.

“Even the next day people kept coming up to me asking for a photo. The last few days have been amazing but quite busy and overwhelming.”

Although Duffy entered the final race of the series leading the rankings, it was Gwen Jorgensen, the Olympic Games gold medal winner, who was favourite for an unprecedented third successive title, having lost only two races in the past two years.

A strong swim and scintillating bike helped Duffy establish a minute lead over Jorgensen, nigh on impossible to beat in a foot race, and kept her United States rival safely at bay with one of the best runs of her career.

“It was a dream come true to win the world title,” said Duffy, who turns 29 next week. “I really didn’t think I would be able to do it.

“I knew it would take a perfect race from me, but somehow everything came together exactly when I needed it to.

“It’s rare that Gwen does not win, so to do it in a commanding style was super cool, and really stamped my authority on the world title.”

Other than holding the Bermudian flag high above her head while smiling uncontrollably, Duffy remembers very little about her approach to the finish line, more than a minute ahead of second-place Jorgensen.

“I went through a range of emotions as I ran down the blue carpet to the finish line,” Duffy said. “It was special that I could grab a Bermudian flag, it’s not often you have the time to do that in an ITU race. I honestly can’t remember what I was thinking, it’s all a blur.”

Exactly four weeks earlier Duffy had failed in her podium bid at the Olympics in Rio, frustratingly finishing well behind several competitors who she has consistently beaten this season.

Disappointed but undeterred, Duffy channelled her uncharacteristically flat display in Copacabana into a positive, admitting she felt liberated with the burden of the Olympics lifted from her shoulders.

“Everything is different after the Olympics,” Duffy added. “It felt like one layer of pressure and expectation had been lifted, which helped me a lot going into Cozumel.

“I managed to come out of the Olympic bubble still quite motivated, I was in shot of a world title after all.

“The Olympics was what is was — a solid performance but not a perfect race.

“I have processed that and moved on.”

Duffy’s season has been nothing short of remarkable. She finished the WTS with two wins and two other podium finishes, and with the Xterra World Championship and ITU Cross Triathlon on the horizon, she could yet write another glorious chapter in her triathlon story.

Should she capture the Xterra series for a third straight year, Duffy would become the first woman to win both the off-road circuit and WTS title in the same season.

“It’s a big goal to win the Xterra World Championship,” she said. “But at the same time, this year has already been huge, so I’m not sure what I have left in the tank.

“As for ITU Cross, I’ll have even less expectation on that one.”

A week after racing in Xterra in Maui, Hawaii, on October 23, Duffy heads to the Bahamas for the Island House Invitational, which will involve 40 triathletes racing over three days in individual time-trials, enduro and sprint non-drafting.

“It’s an invite-only race with 20 women and 20 men racing over three days in different formats. Fun, but also very hard,” she said.