Duffy wins on astonishing return in Tokyo
Flora Duffy made an astonishing winning comeback in a controversial Tokyo Olympic Test Event last night, with a performance she described as “best-case scenario”.
Although Duffy finished third behind Jessica Learmonth and Georgia Taylor-Brown, the Bermudian was later awarded the win after the British pair's were disqualified for trying to finish the race in a tie.
Competing for the first time in 14 months because of a career-threatening foot injury, Duffy beamed as she crossed the line and pumped her fist in a celebratory gesture after passing her first test with flying colours.
At times it was almost like Duffy had never been away, particularly during the 40-kilometre bike, where she showed glimpses of her hard-charging best, leading the front pack for long periods and dictating the pace.
“This was my first race in over a year, so there was a lot of cobwebs to blow out,” said Duffy, speaking before Learmonth and Taylor-Brown's disqualification
“I felt very rusty out there and it was hard from the start for me. I haven't done this intensity for a year, but I'm just happy to be back.
“There was a lot of time during the past year when I didn't think I would be back, didn't think I would run again, didn't think I'd ever be back at the point end of the race.
“This is best-case scenario. I loved the course and it was just great be racing with girls again and feel like myself.”
Duffy completed the Olympic-distance race, including a run reduced to 5km because of the searing morning heat, in a time of 1hr 40min 19sec — 11 seconds behind Learmonth and Taylor-Brown. Alice Betto, of Italy, was second in 1:40:54 and Vicky Holland third in 1:41:11.
Duffy said it was important to familiarise herself with the course at Odaiba Marine Park, where the Olympics will be held next summer.
“The whole point of coming here was to check out the venue, check out the course and see the conditions,” Duffy added.
“I love racing in hot and humid weather and that felt pretty good today. I'm just lacking a bit of race fitness. That was the hardest part for me. It was a great course and I look forward to next year.”
She will now switch her focus to the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Lausanne, Switzerland, where she will take the next step in her recovery in two weeks' time.
Katie Zaferes, who has dominated the World Triathlon Series in Duffy's absence, did not finish after being involved in bike crash with her United States team-mate Kirsten Kasper.