Dame Flora Duffy caps whirlwind week with Royal appointment
Dame Flora Duffy hailed a whirlwind week which culminated in a memorable visit to Buckingham Palace to receive one of the most significant medals among her illustrious career.
Just four days on from becoming a record-breaking four-time world champion in Abu Dhabi, the 35-year-old joined others at an investiture ceremony at the palace to finally receive her honours in person, having been appointed a Dame in the New Year’s Honours list 11 months ago.
Joined by her husband Dan Hugo and parents Maria and Charlie, Duffy savoured the moment of being presented her Grand Cross medal and being honoured by the Princess Royal, a former Olympian herself, having competed at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal as part of the British Eventing squad, becoming the first British royal to do so.
“Flying over to London to receive my damehood was just incredible,” said Duffy, who has won just about every title within the sport, including Bermuda’s first Olympic gold medal, the Commonwealth Games and XTERRA World Championships, as well as four world titles.
“Having to go into Buckingham Palace to receive it was just so special. I received it from the Princess Royal, Princess Anne, who is also a former Olympian and so that made it more special to be able to chat with her.
“My husband Dan and my parents were also there as guests and that made it even more special. I never would have thought of receiving such a title would be possible when I started out.
“It honestly feels like a bit of a whirlwind but I’m just really proud to have been able to do that.”
The ceremony capped an incredible season for Duffy, which saw her cement her status as the greatest ever female athlete to grace triathlon after successfully defending her World Triathlon Championship Series crown with a thrilling victory in the grand final in United Arab Emirates capital.
Inevitably the title came down to a straight showdown between Duffy and main rival Georgia Taylor-Brown, as had been the case at the Olympic and Commonwealth Games.
However, there was to be no denying Duffy her date with destiny, with the latest triumph in a title-laden career moving her clear of Australian Emma Snowsill, who won three world crowns between 2003 and 2006 when the champion was decided in a single race, in the record books to further underline her prominence as the most successful short-course female triathlete in history.
Duffy herself admits that the record was not the forefront of her focus at the beginning of the season, having signalled her intent to focus on longer-distance formats within the sport after fulfilling her childhood dream of Olympic glory.
But after putting herself firmly in title contention with a storming victory on home soil in the penultimate race of the series, she was relieved to have gone on to capitalise on an unexpected opportunity and further etch her name into the annals of sporting history.
“The last week has been quite a lot to take in,” she added. “Being in Abu Dhabi just a few days ago with a big battle against Georgia for the world title was really quite an intense way to end the season.
“Obviously I was very happy with the outcome and pleased with how I raced. I executed everything as I had hoped and it was really special to win my fourth world title.
“At the start of the year that was not really my goal and so I was really pleased to find myself in a situation where I was battling it out for the world title. It was a big relief to have achieved that.
“Winning a record fourth world title and then receiving my damehood just a few days later was just a very cool experience and a great way to end the 2022 season.”