Dame Flora Duffy resumes world-title defence in Yokohama tonight
Dame Flora Duffy will resume her bid for an unprecedented fourth world title when she takes on a high-class field at the World Triathlon Championship Series Yokohama in Japan tonight.
The world and Olympic champion hits the start line at 10.16pm Bermuda time (10.16am Saturday in Japan) on a technical Olympic-distance racecourse.
“This will be my first race of the 2022 season and from here kicks off a pretty busy stretch of racing that leads all the way to Commonwealth Games at the end of July,” Duffy told The Royal Gazette.
“I am excited to race and see where I am at. Had a bit of a slower build into this year, so excited to see where the fitness is at and what needs to be worked on as I build through the rest of this race block.
“I think it will be a tough race but the first race of the year always is. It’s a bit of a shock to the system, so it will be great just to get out there, race again and just enjoy racing here in Japan.”
Duffy got her title defence off to the perfect start after storming to a maiden victory in Abu Dhabi last November, and victory in Yokohama would vault her to the top of the championship standings.
However, her work will be cut out competing against the likes of Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown, American Taylor Knibb, German Laura Lindemann and Belgian Valerie Barthelemy.
“The start list here is pretty competitive, a lot of the top girls are here,” Duffy added. “A few are missing that are just either injured or taking a year off because they are pregnant.
“It’s always a bit of a shift after an Olympic cycle of younger women coming up, some people moving on to longer distance and moving on to just other things in their life. It’s always kind of an interesting time in the sport.”
Among the notable absences are Summer Rappaport and Katie Zaferes, of the United States.
The conditions in Yokohama could prove tricky with rain in the forecast.
“It’s expected to rain on race day, which always changes the dynamic of the race a little bit,” Duffy said.
“But it’s OK. I am very confident racing in the rain, so it worries me a lot less than other people in the race.”
Duffy has enjoyed some of the finest moments of her sparkling career in Japan, having won this event previously as well as Bermuda’s first Olympic gold medal.
“I have had some good success in Japan,” she added. “I have won twice in Yokohama and then, of course, the Olympics last year.
“Lots of good memories here and so I am hoping those good memories and good vibes continue into tomorrow.”
Duffy adds that she is looking forward to watching the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess over the weekend.
“I will be following SailGP wishing I was there,” she said. “Hope it’s a great weekend and there’s no rain; only rain in Japan and not Bermuda for the weekend.”
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