HAMILTON, Bermuda (CMC) – Tokyo Olympics gold medallist Flora Duffy has expressed her frustration after officials called off the 2021 World Triathlon Sprint and Relay Championship in which she was set to compete.
Duffy, 33, the current women’s World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS) champion, said she had been “really looking forward” to competing on home soil at next month’s event, which has been cancelled amid a massive surge in coronavirus cases, including a further four deaths on the island at the weekend.
“It’s very sad, really, really devastating,” Duffy told the Royal Gazette newspaper. “I was, of course, looking forward to racing in Bermuda off the back of the Olympics and really celebrating that moment with the community.
“I was unable to celebrate in Tokyo given the extreme COVID lockdowns, so celebrating with friends and family and the greater community that week in Bermuda was something I was really looking forward to. Of course, I’m upset and frustrated that the race cannot be held. I understand why, because of COVID, but it’s just frustrating.”
The championship was scheduled to be held from October 15 to 17 ahead of the one-off Flora Duffy Day holiday the following day.
However, in the best interest of the health and safety of everyone involved, the Bermuda local organising committee and World Triathlon made the difficult decision to cancel the event following lengthy discussions with Bermuda’s health and government authorities.
“It’s really devastating – devastating for me and also devastating for those who have put so much work in to host this event,” Duffy added.
World Triathlon made the announcement on Saturday, saying: “The whole World Triathlon family is disheartened that the global pandemic continues to impact our events, but we are committed to returning to Bermuda.
“We are confident in the island’s rigorous pandemic management and reputation of delivering safe, outstanding sporting events. Conversations are taking place currently to identify other exciting future opportunities, including a triathlon on the island of Bermuda.”
Duffy, who divides her time between Bermuda, South Africa – her husband Dan Hugo’s home country – and her training base in Boulder, Colorado, won Bermuda’s first Olympic gold medal in Tokyo as well as a record-equalling third women’s WTCS title this summer.
Despite the cancellation of next month’s championship, plans remain to welcome Duffy back to the island on October 11 with a motorcade in her honour.
She will be greeted at the airport by a delegation and taken to the Cabinet Office by motorcade before she meets Premier David Burt for a special presentation.
“I will still be coming back to Bermuda,” Duffy said. “I’m unsure what the week will look like in terms of celebrations. I’m still waiting to hear.
“I think it will be nice to come back and celebrate. But I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty devastated and it just won’t be the same.”
Duffy’s triathlon gold in Tokyo came 45 years after heavyweight boxer Clarence Hill, now 70, won Bermuda’s only other Olympic medal – a bronze at the Montreal Games in 1976.