Flora Duffy follows Olympic gold with record-equalling third world title
Flora Duffy clinched a record-equalling third women’s World Triathlon Championship Series title after finishing third in the Grand Final in Edmonton on Saturday.
Fresh from back-to-back gold medal glory at the Olympic Games in Tokyo and the World Triathlon Championship Series race in Montreal, Duffy headed into the finale needing a minimum of an eighth-place finish to secure the title, with a 449-point advantage over nearest rival Taylor Spivey, with Maya Kingma a further nine points adrift in third in the standings.
Despite the cushion, the 33-year-old refused to rest on her laurels; exiting the water from the 1,500-metre swim in 18min 57sec, clocked 1:21:43 on the 40-kilometre cycle and completed the 10km run in 1:56:09, slightly less than a minute-and-a-half adrift of Taylor Knibb’s race-winning time of 1:54:47.
Léonie Périault, of France, crossed the line second in 1:55:42 to secure her first WTCS podium finish.
Duffy finished on top of the overall standings with a total of 3,861 points, ahead of Knibb, on 3,486, while Spivey clinched third place on 3239 points.
Her latest success means that Duffy has not only rewritten the record books to emulate the achievement of three-times title winner Emma Snowsill, of Australia, but she has also became the first triathlete in history to win Olympic gold and the world title in the same year.
“It is certainly hard doing this series off the back of winning an Olympic Games,” said Duffy immediately after the race to World Triathlon Live.
“It was a very hard race. I had a pretty mediocre swim and I had some ground to catch up on. I could see Maya [Kingma], Taylor Spivey and Taylor Knibb off the front and I knew I had to get there [to the front] before Taylor Knibb took off because she is just so strong on the bike.
“Just as I was getting closer, Taylor [Knibb] attacked from the front and she was just gone. She is performing so incredibly well at the moment and it was just such a great performance from her today.
“Once she was gone, it became more of a defensive race because for me. The purpose was to win the world title, not necessarily be first to cross the line, although that would have been nice.
“I had Maya and Taylor [Spivey] in my group, who came into the race second and third [in the overall standings] and so it was about keeping an eye on them and preparing for that final run.”
In an astonishing display on the day, it was Knibb who led out of the water, holding a 15-second advantage over Duffy.
On to the bike and it was Knibb still holding a slight advantage over Spivey and Kingma, with Duffy working hard to bridge the gap to the leaders.
However, just as she got to within touching distance, Knibb, shocked the field, seizing the initiative to break away solo on the first of eight laps. Incredibly, by the halfway stage of the bike, her advantage stood at near two minutes as the chasing pack tried in vain to close the gap.
By the final transition, the American triathlete had given herself a monumental lead of 2min 43sec, as he headed off on her solo run. From that point, victory was never in doubt, as the focus turned to the remaining podium places, not only for the race, but the series overall.
At the halfway stage of the run, Périault, one of the strongest runners among the field, edged clear of Duffy into second place, with the Bermudian content on settling into her rhythm, secure in the knowledge that the world title had all but been secured.
Knibb crossed the line to to clinch gold, but the day ultimately belonged to Duffy, who added yet another milestone moment to her illustrious career.