Flora Duffy produced a gutsy and courageous performance to finish eighth in the women’s triathlon at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games yesterday.
The 26-year-old Bermudian matched her Melbourne 2006 result and did so having pushed the leading competitors all the way.
Staying true to her pre-race plan of hitting the swim and bike hard before the run, her weakest discipline, Duffy stayed hot on the heels of the leading English athletes.
She emerged from the water in seventh but very much in the pack and was third after the second lap of the bike. It was then she showed her real mettle.
Knowing this was the time to make her move, Duffy led the group at the third-lap mark and twice tried to make breaks, only to be pulled back.
She was unable to separate herself from the pack but rather than fade away she kept coming, playing a leading role in helping close down a 33-second gap on leader Hall, who then spectacularly ran out of gas.
Fifth going into the second transition, Duffy remained in the top 10 in the run – albeit in the back four — and battled hard to force her way up to eighth at the finish. It was a performance made even better when you consider recent foot injuries and it was rounded off with a memorable high-five with her watching mom.
Duffy finished in two hours, two minutes and 18 seconds — 3:22 off gold medal winner, England’s Joe Stimpson.
Tough for Tyler
In the men’s event, Tyler Butterfield finished 19th, having been one of the many athletes taken apart by the mind-boggling pace of England’s Brownlee brothers, Alistair, who won gold, and Jonathan, who claimed silver.
The Bermudian professional was a full minute down after the swim and the Brownlees were equally relentless on the bike. Butterfield was, therefore, left struggling to join the main pack.
However, the Ironman fought hard to the end and gained some places during the run to seal a top-20 place.
If the race was tough for Butterfield, it was plain brutal for Bermuda amateurs Jonathan Herring and Tucker Murphy. Both were lapped during the bike and, therefore, not allowed to finish.
It raised questions about the course design, considering the gap in speed of the top pros and amateurs.
Herring remained philosophical, posting on his Facebook page: “Ah well! After six months of work, injuries, setbacks and rubbish training, the chapter closed alongside the 20 or so other guys who got lapped and pulled after I suppose greatly underestimating how much time we could lose to the Brownlees in full flight on a super tough course. Poor swim, and climbed like the biggest and heaviest and only hedge fund analyst was probably expected to climb compared to them. Knew the writing was on the wall the first time I saw them after the swim.
“Disappointing but the crowd and experience was awesome for what will be my last race for a good while. Hammed it up a bit! Thanks to all for the cheers from afar. Time to chill with all these people living the dream. Back to the real world on Monday.”
Alistair Brownlee crossed the finish line in 1:48:50, with his brother just 11 seconds behind him. Butterfield’s final time was 1:55:31.