Dame Flora Duffy gets back on track after Covid setback
Dame Flora Duffy’s preparations for the busy upcoming season are back up to speed having recovered from a bout with coronavirus.
The Olympic and multiple world champion is presently in Boulder, Colorado, putting the finishing touches to her preseason training programme that started later than originally planned due to contracting Covid-19.
“I had a slower start to the year in terms of training because I had Covid in January, and so that kind of prevented me from training until about February,” Duffy told The Royal Gazette. “Then I had to be quite cautious how much load I could do because of just coming back from that.
“Of course I was unfit at that time as well because I had taken a break at the end of my season. So in March I was definitely training a bit less than usual and gradually building up as the weeks went on.”
Duffy began her preseason training in South Africa, where she enjoyed the opportunity to train alongside compatriot Tyler Smith.
“It was really great to have Tyler Smith out there for four weeks,” she added.
“By that period I was able to train quite a lot, so we did a lot of great training together and it was just really fun to have him out there. He was in a really good place and just a fun experience in general to have him there.
“Now I am back over in Boulder and we will be here for the rest of the year.”
The 34-year-old is set to resume her World Triathlon Championship Series title defence when she makes her first appearance of the year in Yokohama, Japan, on May 14 and 15.
“I start my season in two weeks in Yokohama, Japan, which I am looking forward to,” she said.
“It’s the first race of the season for me but technically it will be the third round of the 2022 season because there were two races last year that counted for this year.”
Duffy got her title defence off to the perfect start after storming to a maiden victory in Abu Dhabi in November.
The Yokohama event will be the first of back-to-back appearances inside of a week for the Bermuda Female Athlete of Year as she is also due to compete in a 70.3 event in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
“The following week I will race a 70.3 in Chattanooga, and there I hope to qualify for he 70.3 World Championships, which is a different distance from what I normally race,” she added.
“I just wanted to do something a little bit different this year after the big Olympic build. Just introduce a different distance, which has been kind of new challenge and a lot of fun.”
The star athlete’s hectic schedule also includes her title defence at the Commonwealth Games in what could be her final appearance at the event.
“I am really excited to hear that I have been officially selected for the Bermuda team at Commonwealth Games,” she said.
“I am looking forward to trying to defend my title because I won in 2018 on the Gold Coast and I am equally looking forward to racing in the mixed team relay with Tyler Butterfield, Tyler Smith and Erica Hawley.
“I think that’s going to be really fun and such a unique experience for all of us. I think we are all super excited for that and really grateful that we get the opportunity to do that together as a team.
“I am also looking forward to watching the other athletes that have qualified at their events and just being involved with Bermuda at the Commonwealth Games. It will likely be my last Commonwealth Games, so I am just going to soak in the moment and enjoy it all.”
Duffy is also excited to finally have the chance to race in front of a home crowd as Olympic champion when the island host the sixth stage of the World Triathlon Championship Series on November 5 and 6.
“A big goal of mine will obviously be to race well and just really enjoy the moment of racing home in Bermuda as the Olympic champion,” she added.
“I am also so glad that the race can happen after a couple of years of not being able to because of Covid. I hope everyone comes out to watch and support the event because it will be really, really great.”
Duffy’s career reached dizzying heights last year after securing the island’s first Olympic gold medal, a record-equalling third World Triathlon Championship Series and an unprecedented sixth Xterra World Championship title.
She also captured glory on her debut at the Super League Triathlon championship series finale and is the first triathlete to be crowned the world and Olympic champion in the same year.