Wedding is the next top priority for Duffy
Flora Duffy was home in Bermuda for just a few days after her weekend victory in Bahamas, making a couple of public appearances, and then flying back out again yesterday.
Although she is now in her off-season, Duffy is preparing for another big event — her wedding to former Xterra triathlete Dan Hugo in South Africa next month.
The couple will tie the knot on his family's farm in Worcester, near Cape Town on December 16, then Duffy will switch her focus to next season, which will include the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, and the ITU World Triathlon event in Bermuda in April.
Duffy will also be aiming for a third successive ITU World Triathlon Series title and fifth straight Xterra title, having won four in a row in Kapalua, Maui, in October.
“This was definitely my best ever [season], I won the first ITU title in 2016 and it was very different coming back as the defending World Champion,” Duffy said.
“That [ITU win] adds an extra load of pressure and expectation, plus I started the year off injured. To overcome injury and perform as well as I did, given the circumstances, I'm most thrilled about that. Obviously defending my World title is top of the list.”
Duffy, 30, will remain based in Boulder, Colorado, before heading to Stellenbosch, South Africa, for part of the winter.
“The next four weeks I'll take off, I'm getting married in three weeks so that's the next top priority,” said Duffy, who will still use her maiden name on the racing circuit.
“It's a very short trip this time, Dan is keen to get back to South Africa and there are a few last minute things we have to do before family starts arriving and last minute wedding things start to pile on us.
“Then just before Christmas I'll get back into training again, with my first race in Abu Dhabi at the beginning of March. My season starts quite early with the Commonwealth Games at the beginning of April, so I'll need to be in top shape for that.
“It will still be the same, I'll spend my time between Boulder and South Africa and then come back here when I can. I'll still race with my last name Duffy.”
The demands are great on the top triathletes and Duffy knows all too well the sacrifices that have to be made.
“Lot of sacrifices, lot of ups and down, but yes, to the outside world it seems everything is flowing normally,” she explained.
“They see success after success, and of course a lot of it is. But there is a lot of nitty gritty behind the scenes that people don't see. My lifestyle isn't as glamorous as it appears.”
Duffy added: “It never ends, with races all around the world now. It's always summer somewhere in the world so they can have a race there. Next year I think I'll try to make my season a little shorter but this year that was just the way it worked out. In the next few months we'll look at the calendar and decide what I want to do.”
Duffy has competed in three Olympic Games and is gearing up for another in 2020 in Toyko, Japan, when she is again expected to be a medal favourite. She was disappointed with her eighth-place finish in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
“With the build-up to Tokyo you don't want to be racing all year round because you don't really get much time to rest,” she said. “That will be the biggest thing going forward, being a bit more specific with my racing season duration.
“That's the big goal and the preparation starts now.”
Duffy squeezed in a couple of pre-arranged public appearances on Tuesday, visiting her former school, Warwick Academy, where the pool was named after her. She also helped the Bermuda Tourism Authority promote the ITU World Triathlon Bermuda.
The school visit was especially touching for her, reminding her where it all started.
“It definitely took me down memory lane when they were talking about my high school days,” she admitted. “It was quite emotional, it is then that you realise how much you have achieved. It was a very surreal moment. I never thought I would have a swimming facility named after me, especially at Warwick Academy. I spent many hours up and down that pool and I hope it inspires the children.
“That's the ultimate message, that I was just one of you, I walked in those halls and a lot of those teachers are still here.
“I just pursued my dream, it wasn't easy along the way but I just followed my heart and kept to it.”