Duffy makes history once more with successful Commonwealth Games defence in Birmingham
A Bermudian hurricane blew into Birmingham on Friday afternoon, the latest stop in Flora Duffy’s quest for world domination, another timeless display ensuring 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 on the first bike lap to bridge with Scotland’s early leader Beth Potter, but that was the only slight gap in the armour she would show all day.
A breakaway with Taylor-Brown was 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 pressing on to take gold, Taylor-Brown and Potter the silver and bronze respectively to send the grandstands wild.
“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 and more than on Gold Coast.”
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 seizing the initiative to find clear water out front.
Australia’s Natalie Van Coevorden was once again among the leading swimmers, Olivia Mathias (WAL) and Emy Legault (CAN) also putting together a strong 750m in the water to come out well in touch as Scotland’s Potter was onto the ramp and up into transition ahead.
It was an excellent transition too, and in her third Commonwealth Games outing, second as a triathlete, it was Potter straight on the gas and carving out some significant daylight behind.
It was there that Duffy and Taylor-Brown were soon joined by Sophie Coldwell (ENG) and Emy Legault (CAN) and the four gave chase, organising themselves well enough to catch the leader, the Bermudian making it clear she expected everyone in the group to work out front over the opening 5km lap.
Those five looked settled in for the second lap, but that apparent comfort was simply the trigger for Duffy to mix things up, veering to the right and driving clear, only Taylor-Brown able to respond and stick on her wheel as the leaders 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, 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 and up the first climb managed to begin gradually striding further away, Taylor-Brown grabbing early fluid as she struggled to find her familiar groove.
By the bell, as Duffy’s advantage crept up to 16 seconds, a second successive Commonwealth Games gold began to look inevitable. Potter was pulling clear of Coldwell 70 seconds back into the bronze medal position that she was determined not to let go, but it was up ahead that the race was being won by one of the greatest the sport has seen.
Flora Duffy was cheered down the blue carpet to take the tape proudly wearing the flag of Bermuda, history made, 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 in fifth from compatriot Mathias, Ackermann, Nicole Van Der Kaay (NZL) and Legault rounding out the top 10.
“We didn’t hear the gun at all, so Flora and I were playing catch up to get up to everyone and the first buoy was chaotic and I just knew I needed to follow her as I always do on the swim,” revealed Taylor-Brown afterwards. “Flora put the first attack in on the bike and I went with her and it paid off as we established a gap. I didn’t feel myself today but Flora was running super fast. It’s one of those days, that’s the sport, I dug in and got to that line. The crowds were incredible, thanks to everyone that came out today it was incredible.”
“I wasn’t a favourite coming in so I’m delighted to get on the podium - especially in England!” said a smiling Potter. “I knew that attacks were coming and I was probably half a second too late and on the wrong line to respond. The swim was great, I found myself at the front and wondered what I was doing there! I’m just buzzing to get the bronze.”
For the full results, click here.
12:13 - 29 Jul, 2022
11:55 - 28 Jul, 2022
10:34 - 28 Jul, 2022