Full-time focus: Flora Duffy, who already has two Olympics behind her, has now finished college and is training full-time ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer. *AFP photo
Full-time focus: Flora Duffy, who already has two Olympics behind her, has now finished college and is training full-time ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer. *AFP photo

Triathlete Flora Duffy will draw on Tyler Butterfield’s Ironman heroics for inspiration as she works towards the Commonwealth Games this summer.

The 26-year-old admits there is more pressure on her to perform now she has graduated from the University of Colorado and the sport is her full-time profession.

Without the pressure of studying, Duffy has, for three months, relocated to Stellenbosch, South Africa, where she is currently training and competing hard ahead of what promises to be a busy schedule.

And the two-time Olympian — she represented the island at Beijing 2008 and London 2012 — says watching fellow Bermudian triathlete Butterfield achieve seventh place at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawai’i just fuels her desire to leave a mark on 2014.

“Tyler’s finish in Kona was incredibly inspiring,” she told the Bermuda Sun

“I was so proud and happy for him. It definitely motivates me to train hard and gives me hope that maybe I can one day do something equally as special within triathlon.”

She added: “The Commonwealth Games is a big target for me this year. I love representing Bermuda at large events so to perform well would be very special. 

“Life post-college is very different. I have the freedom to train where I want and when I want, which after four years of fitting everything in between class is amazing. 

“It is also a lot less stressful because I don’t have to worry about fitting in all my homework and studying. Plus I can get to bed at a reasonable hour now!

“So all around it has been a positive experience to be training full-time. However on the flip side, it is a little scary to think that triathlon is my full-time job — it puts more pressure on me to perform.”

Both Butterfield and Duffy were this week named by the Bermuda Olympic Association as two of the country’s elite athletes to receive grants under the International Olympic Committee’s Olympic Solidarity Programme.

Along with other Commonwealth Games hopefuls Tyrone Smith and Arantxa King (both athletics) and Roy-Allen Burch (swimming), they will each receive $1,000 per month until August this year.

BOA president Judy Simons said all five were ‘deserving’ and that she expected them to ‘continue to do Bermuda proud during their respective upcoming international competitions’. 

For Duffy, the cash will help fund a full 2014 schedule that, along with the Commonwealths in Glasgow, will include International Triathlon Union races, non-drafting Olympic distance events in the US (Lifetime Fitness Series) and one or two XTERRA series events.

Already in South Africa she has won the Terra Firma Challenge — 50km road bike, 13km road run, 25km mountain bike and 9km beach run —and at the weekend came second in the women’s Totalsports XTERRA Buffelspoort event, which consists of a 1.5km swim, 27km mountain bike and 12km run.

Duffy believes that right now Africa is the perfect place for her to be.

She said: “I decided to spend three months here for a few reasons. One being I wanted to escape the cold Colorado winter, two the boy I am dating, Dan Hugo, lives here — he’s also a triathlete — and finally I had heard so many positive things about Stellenbosch I had to come and check it out. 

“It is a great training venue for triathlon, and a very cute town which makes it an ideal location to spend some time in. Plus it is nice and warm! It is nice to have a change of scenery. Everything is different here which is extremely refreshing.”

She added: “The Buffelspoort XTERRA went fairly well. I had a great swim coming out of the water in second just behind Dan — he is a very good XTERRA athlete and ended up winning the race —  but then suffered on the bike. I was struggling physically and technically. I came off the bike in fourth and had a decent run, managing to run up to second place. 

“It was a low-key event for me and the result holds no significant importance as XTERRA is not my focus — however I am competitive and always like to do my best.”