Bermuda’s Flora Duffy continued to prove herself to be the top triathlete in the world with an impressive performance on the opening day of the Commonwealth Games in Australia.
After a dominant race from beginning to end, Flora Duffy claimed the first gold medal of the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast and put temporarily her country on top of the medal table. Behind her, English Jessica Learmonth claimed silver, and Canadian Joanna Brown took the third place.
The race started with Duffy, Learmonth and Sophie Coldwell (ENG) leading the swim from the very first strokes, on a windy but really warm day in Southport Broadwater Parklands. With the water at 24.1 degrees C, the hot and humid conditions were hard for all the athletes, but Duffy and Learmonth imposed a frantic rhythm as soon as they mounted their bikes, a few seconds ahead of all the other athletes.
The two of them worked together to build up a difference enough to maintain them away from the chasing pack, which included some strong runners, such as Ashleigh Gentle (AUS), Vicky Holland (ENG) or Joanna Brown (CAN). Halfway through the fast and flat course, the leading duo had almost one minute difference over the chasers, and by the end of the 20km bike, the two of them managed to keep it to almost one minute.
That minute proved to be too much for the chasers. With Duffy speeding up in the first meters of the 5km run, Learmonth tried to keep up the pace but looking nervously behind her every few meters. She had a reason to do it. Behind her, and coming strong, her teammates Coldwell and Holland, along with Gentle and Brown were speeding up, cheered by the thousands of spectators lining up along the course in Southport Broadwater Parklands.
The last kilometer looked like a fun run for Duffy, smiling and being cheered on by the spectators, knowing that the first medal of the Games was almost hers. And indeed it was. Looking confident and grabbing a Bermudian flag, Flora crossed the finish line to claim her first ever gold medal on the Commonwealth Games, stopping the clock on 56:50. She will now have two more chances of grabbing medals: in the Mixed Relay this Saturday, and on the Women’s Cross Country Mountain Bike race next Thursday.
“I came in the favorite so that adds its own pressure”, said Duffy after claiming gold. “I am getting used to the pressure – from 2016 (winning the ITU World Championships) I had to get used to it, it is the space in which I am. There will be media and people watching me, so I just try to forget about it and do my thing,” she explained.