Performances of the Year: Flora Duffy takes gold in Tokyo

Flora Duffy is all smiles with her gold medal. Photo: World Triathlon/ Wagner Araujo

It was an Olympic gold medal that was four Olympics in the making – Flora Duffy first competed for Bermuda at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and would go on to compete for the tiny island nation three more times. When she took the gold medal in Tokyo this year it was the first time Bermuda ever won gold at the Olympics. The country was so thrilled with her result that they created a holiday in her name.

Two years before Duffy had become the first athlete from Bermuda to win gold at the Commonwealth Games. Heading into the Games in Tokyo Duffy was a logical favorite, holding the hopes of a nation on her shoulders thanks to the brilliant four years she’d enjoyed leading into the Games that featured two world championship titles (2016 and 2017) and numerous World Triathlon wins.

For years Duffy was known as an incredible swimmer/ cyclist who could come out of the water with the leaders, then break away from her competition on the bike leg, opening up enough of a gap to hold on for the win. In Tokyo, though, Duffy proved that she has also become one of the sport’s premier runners. She came out of the water with a lead group of seven, then helped whittle that down to four by the end of the bike. On the run Duffy pulled clear early and ran away from the rest of the women in the race, eventually finishing 1:14 ahead of Great Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown and 1:27 ahead of America’s Katie Zaferes.

You can read our recap of the race here.

Duffy would go on to show her impressive 2021 form with a win at WTCS Montreal a few weeks after the Olympics, then would finish third at the WTCS Edmonton Grand Final to nail her third world championship title. A wild card entry for the final Super League Triathlon race in Malibu opened the door for her to take the win there, which she followed up with a win at WTCS Abu Dhabi in November.

As if that wasn’t enough, Duffy would round out her golden year with her sixth-straight Xterra World Championship title, one in which the swim was cancelled, forcing her to prove her running prowess once again.

While so many of Duffy’s races in 2021 could easily be considered a “performance of the year,” we’ve chosen her Olympic race because, in the end, Duffy overcame both immense pressure, tough conditions and an incredibly competitive field to dominate the day.