Flora Duffy devastated by cancellation of World Triathlon Sprint and Relay Championship
Flora Duffy has expressed grief and frustration over the cancellation of the 2021 World Triathlon Sprint and Relay Championship.
The Olympic and World Triathlon Championship Series champion said she had been “really looking forward” to competing on home turf at next month’s event, which has been cancelled amid the new Covid-19 spike.
“It’s very sad, really, really devastating,” Duffy told The Royal Gazette. “I was of course looking forward to racing in Bermuda off the back of the Olympics and really celebrating that moment with the community.
“I was unable to celebrate in Tokyo given the extreme Covid lock downs, so celebrating with friends and family and the greater community that week in Bermuda was something I was really looking forward to.
“Of course I’m upset and frustrated that the race cannot be held. I understand why because of Covid, but it’s just frustrating.”
The championship was scheduled to be held from October 15 to 17.
However, in the best interest of the heath and safety of everyone involved, the Bermuda Local Organising Committee and World Triathlon made the difficult decision to cancel the event following lengthy discussions with Bermuda’s health and government authorities.
The Organising Committee and the World Triathlon conducted a risk assessment on the event using a tool provided by the World Health Organisation.
With the analysis taking into consideration the island’s recent spike in Covid-19 infections in addition to the Bermuda Hospital’s elevated Covid-19 patient intake, the Organising Committee in consultation with World Triathlon opted to make the decision not to proceed with the event.
“It’s really devastating; devastating for me and also devastating for those that have put so much work in to host this event,” Duffy added.
“That goes to those on the Local Organising Committee, Bermuda Tourism and the Government of Bermuda.
“I appreciate how much backing and support they have given this event and I’m also sure it’s such a devastating blow to them as well.”
World Triathlon made the announcement on Saturday.
“The whole World Triathlon family is disheartened that the global pandemic continues to impact our events, but we are committed to returning to Bermuda.
“We are confident in the island’s rigorous pandemic management and reputation of delivering safe, outstanding sporting events. Conversations are taking place presently to identify other exciting future opportunities, including a triathlon on the island of Bermuda,” the organisation said in a statement.
Former Olympic sprinter Hazel Clark, chairman of the World Triathlon Series Bermuda, added: “We are disappointed that Bermuda will not be able to stage the Championship in 2021 yet appreciate that safety for Bermuda’s residents and visitors will always be the priority.
“The Bermuda Tourism Authority, our local organising committee, and sponsors have invested significant resources in preparation for this pinnacle endurance event, and their efforts are gratefully acknowledged.
“We look forward to repurposing the resources and building on the groundwork that has been laid for a future event that will benefit all of Bermuda.”The Royal Gazette reached out to the Bermuda Triathlon Association for comment, which had not arrived at press time.
Duffy won Bermuda’s first Olympic gold medal competing at the Tokyo Games as well as a record-equalling third women’s World Triathlon Championship Series title this summer.
Government announced this month that October 18 would be declared Flora Duffy Day in recognition of the triathlete’s success. Despite the cancellation of the Championship, plans remain to welcome Duffy back to the island on October 11 with a motorcade in her honour.
The 33-year-old will be greeted at the airport by a delegation and taken to the Cabinet Office by motorcade before she meets with David Burt, the Premier, for a special presentation.
“I will still be coming back to Bermuda,” Duffy said. “I’m unsure what the week will look like in terms of celebrations. I’m still waiting to hear.
“I think it will be nice to come back and celebrate. But I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty devastated and it just won’t be the same.”