BIRMINGHAM, U.K. (JULY 29, 2022) — A Bermudian hurricane blew into Birmingham’s Sutton Park on Friday afternoon, the latest stop in Flora Duffy’s quest for world domination as she provided another timeless display of her prowess to claim back-to-back Commonwealth Games golds for the first time in the sport.
It hadn’t been a vintage start from the Olympic champion who was slow off the line along with Georgia Taylor-Brown and had to work hard on the first bike lap to bridge with Scotland’s early leader, Beth Potter. But that was the only slight gap in the armor she would show all day.
A bike breakaway with Taylor-Brown was then successful, only for Duffy to follow it up decisively with a swift T2 and powerful opening run lap that the current world number one couldn’t match. Duffy pressed on to take gold, Taylor-Brown and Potter took the silver and bronze, respectively.
“I was feeling good today, my form has been building all year and I’ve had to be patient and trust I’d be ready for this,” admitted a thrilled Duffy. “I knew it would be super tough to defend the title with Georgia here. The crowd was going crazy and I just tried to soak up the moment. I felt like myself on the run but this is a brutal course and I tried to use the downhills as best I could and remembered Georgia bridging up to me in Abu Dhabi so didn’t want to let up. Racing for Bermuda, I’m one of the few medal hopes so I feel that pressure, but it’s so cool there are so many countries racing here, that’s the beauty of the Commonwealth Games.”
Duffy’s Dominance Unfolds after a Slow Start
It hadn’t been the start either Flora Duffy or Georgia Taylor-Brown would have wanted as they appeared to miss the gun. Beth Potter seized the initiative to find clear water out front in the opening strokes.
Australia’s Natalie Van Coevorden was once again among the leading swimmers. Olivia Mathias (WAL) and Emy Legault (CAN) also put together a strong 750m in the water to come out in touch with Scotland’s Potter who was onto the ramp and into transition first.
Potter displayed an excellent transition, too, and in her third Commonwealth Games, second as a triathlete, she carved out some significant daylight ahead of the field.
On the bike, Duffy and Taylor-Brown, soon joined by Sophie Coldwell (ENG) and Emy Legault (CAN), gave chase, organizing themselves well enough to catch the leader. The Bermudian made it clear she expected everyone in the group to work out front over the opening 5km lap.
Those five settled in for the second lap, but that apparent comfort was simply the trigger for Duffy to mix things up. Duffy veered to the right and drove clear, only Taylor-Brown was able to respond and stick on her wheel as the leading group splintered.
Suddenly the lead was over 15 seconds to the chasing trio, while a bigger pack featuring Sophie Linn (AUS), Simone Ackermann (RSA) and Non Stanford (WAL) were 50 seconds off the lead at the halfway point.
At the bell, the lead was all the way up to 35 seconds with Coldwell unable to do anything about the ever-growing gap ahead as the chasers began to think about the fight for the bronze medal.
Duffy had an immaculate transition to earn precious seconds over her rival heading into the run. Going up the first climb, she managed to gradually stride further away. Taylor-Brown grabbed early fluid as she struggled to find her familiar groove.
As Duffy’s advantage crept up to 16 seconds, a second successive Commonwealth Games gold began to look inevitable. Potter pulled clear of Coldwell who was 70 seconds back. Potter was determined not to let go of that bronze medal position, but the race was being won up ahead by one of the greatest the sport has seen.
The crowd cheered Flora Duffy down the blue carpet as she proudly broke the finishing tape wearing the Bermuda flag, history made, and more history possibly awaiting in her quest for a fourth world title in Abu Dhabi later this year. Just as in Tokyo 12 months ago, Taylor-Brown battled to the silver, while Potter took a hugely popular bronze. Coldwell held off Sophie Linn for fourth place, Non Stanford came in fifth.
|Van Der Kaay