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Olympic medal favourite Flora Duffy wary of rising temperature

Flora Duffy (Photograph by Wagner Araujo/ITU Media)

Flora Duffy believes the heat and humidity is the biggest obstacle that athletes must overcome at the Olympic Games, which begin in Tokyo on Friday.

The Bermudian triathlete got a feel for the local climate first hand while participating in the Olympic test event in 2019.

It is this experience that Duffy intends to put to good use heading into her fourth and likely final appearance on the Olympic stage.

“The biggest factor with Tokyo is the heat and humidity,” Duffy told triathlon.com.

“Also the water temperature; I think at the test event it was about 30C [86F] which is hot, so I have a heat protocol which I will start. It’s basically what I did in 2019 before the test event in Tokyo."

The temperature in Tokyo yesterday was reported at 95F.

Duffy made her Olympic debut at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and also competed in the 2012 and 2016 Games in London and Rio de Janeiro respectively.

Her career reached dizzying heights in 2016 when she became the first and only athlete to earn three triathlon world titles in the same year, which included the World Triathlon Series, ITU Cross Triathlon and Xterra titles in close succession.

She is also the only triathlete in WTS history to post the fastest swim, bike and run portions in the same race, and also holds the record for the largest winning margin in both Olympic and sprint distance races in a WTS event.

In 2017, Duffy looked unbeatable as she went on a winning streak on the World Triathlon circuit and a year later captured the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.

Since then, she has been a favourite for the Tokyo Olympic title and comes into the Games as Bermuda’s best bet to win an Olympic medal since heavyweight boxer Clarence Hill captured bronze in Montreal 45 years ago.

“It feels like I have been lumped into this favourites group for like for ever now,” Duffy said. “It’s just been building and building for this moment.

“We are in a Covid-postponed Olympics, which I never thought I would possibly be in. I think I would’ve been pretty ready last year.

“For some people this extra year has been game-changing. For others, not so much. I think I’m in a pretty good position.”

She added: “It was my dream of going to the Olympics as a ten-year-old girl and now here I am very close to being able to compete to do that and it’s like can’t give up on that quite yet while I’m standing a the doorstep.

“I just always try to go back to how much it means to me and to keep fighting for it.”

Duffy impressed competing at the elite level for the first time since October 2020 at the AJ Bell 2021 World Triathlon Championship Series Leeds last month, when she placed fourth.

She completed the 1,500-metre swim in 19min 1sec, the 36.2-kilometre cycle in 1:01:06 and the 10km run in a blistering 33:47, the fastest among the elite women’s field, to cross the line in a total combined time of 1:55:25.

Encouraged by her display, Duffy returned to her training base in Boulder, Colorado, where she also resides to step up her preparations for Tokyo.

“The training in Boulder is good,” she said.

“There’s loads of triathletes running around here, great roads to ride and it’s at altitude. It’s just a really great place to train.

“An average training week is six swims, six bikes a week and running between four and six times.

“I’m not part of an ITU squad, which is nice because I can have my own plan, do a little bit solo mixing with some friends. From where I am in my life, to be in a squad is just not for me.”

Duffy will miss the opening ceremony because she arrives in Tokyo the same day. She competes next Monday at 6.30pm Bermuda time.

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Published July 20, 2021 at 8:01 am (Updated July 27, 2021 at 9:11 am)

Olympic medal favourite Flora Duffy wary of rising temperature

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