Duffy in the money, but oh those drug tests
Flora Duffy's most successful year in triathlon, when she won three ITU World titles in 2016, has come with great financial benefits, with the Bermudian pocketing $200,000 in prize money.
However, there was a downside to that success, too, like constantly being drug tested.
Duffy shared her life as a top triathlete during a recent interview on TRS Triathlon radio, fielding a barrage of questions about her career. The money she pocketed last year was the most for any athlete, male or female.
“It is a nice number, but at the same time I basically podiumed in nearly every race I did, and won three world titles,” Duffy said of the money. “Compared to other sports, in triathlon we're still not making huge dollars here, but for me it was.”
Have there been any huge purchases, she was asked during the interview. “No I haven't splashed out, I was very tempted to buy a cool car but I spend half the year in Boulder [Colorado] and half in South Africa,” she replied. “I did buy property in Boulder, more of a condo, one storey, garage and little yard.”
The downside to life as a professional athlete is the number of drug tests, in Duffy's case quite a few last year.
“I was tested like 25, 26 times in 2016, I was like ‘can you stop taking my blood, I need this',” she joked. “With ITU you'll get tested if you do well and are on the podium and probably also before the race.
“Every time I go to an ITU event it is generally twice. I race often so that adds up and there will be a couple of tests between every race. It's to the point where I'm on first-name basis with the drug testers in South Africa and the ones in Boulder!”
Duffy won three Xterra World Championships in 2014, 2015 and 2016 to match the success of Julie Dibens, the Briton who is also based in Boulder. “I've matched Julie who also won three, so I guess I have to win another one to top her, which I enjoy giving her some good banter about,” Duffy said. “I do a lot of her swim sessions in Boulder.”
Duffy is set to return to Colorado around mid-April to continue her preparation for a busy year. It is where many of the top triathletes reside, including fellow Bermudian Tyler Butterfield, who is one of the top male triathletes.
“Is it true that Tyler Butterfield has been very jealous of all your attention and succession, that he used to be Mr triathlon in Bermuda but now when people think of triathlon in Bermuda it is all about Flora Duffy, that they have forgotten about Tyler Butterfield and that he's been treating you very badly?” the interviewer joked.
“No, that's not true, Tyler would never treat anybody badly, he is one of the best people I've come across,” Duffy said. “He's awesome, I really enjoy seeing him. I've been over to dinner at their house, Tyler and Nicky's. I like their house, they have a nice house up in the mountains, beautiful view, secluded.
“The great thing about Boulder is there are so many triathletes there and they are pretty much into themselves.”
Her interests outside triathlon include hanging out with friends from Boulder, where she also attended college at the University of Colorado.
“I don't socialise much with triathletes outside of training,” she revealed. “It's a sad reality that I've found myself in, but if I want to be the best in triathlon my life has to revolve around it and I've become an uninteresting person.
“I train with a training group in Boulder and we do a lot of sessions together, then on the weekends I have a couple of girls that I ride with which gives it a nice balance. I've realised that I'm a bit of introvert, which I found out more since 2016 since getting a bit more attention when you see your name in articles and people recognise you a bit more.
“Now I just want to hide in my house. Not that it's crazy and I'm a Kardashian or anything, it's very low level but it is different from before.”
Duffy took up the sport at the age of seven when she ran her first triathlon. She has not forgotten her humble beginnings and would like to give back to the sport in Bermuda one day.
“What I would hope there would be is a Flora Duffy foundation in Bermuda to help young Bermudians in sport to get to the next level,” Duffy said. “That would be my ultimate pipeline dream.
“I did my first triathlon when I was seven and it still exists in Bermuda now which is pretty cool. It attracts so many kids. From there I joined a local triathlon club which also still exists and there are a pile of kids there which I visit when I go back home.”