Bermuda’s Flora Duffy dominated the run portion of the women’s triathlon to win Olympic gold on a wet and humid morning at Odaiba Marine Park. The gruelling race, which involves a 1.5km swim, 40km bike ride and 10km run, saw a group of five – including Duffy, Taylor-Brown and Zaferes – pull away during the bike ride to leave the chasing group fighting for the non-medal positions.
However, it was the run where the true champion was decided, as Duffy led from the start of the four-lap race, winning in a time of 1:55.36 – a full minute and 14 seconds ahead of second-place Taylor-Brown.
Britain’s Taylor-Brown, who was crowned 2020 world champion after a one-off race decided the title when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the race calendar, lost ground on the leading group during the ride after her bike’s rear tyre was punctured, before storming past the USA’s Zaferes midway through the run section to take an impressive silver for Great Britain.
And while Zaferes tired visibly over the final 10km, she dug deep to hold onto a memorable bronze for the United States.
The top three have a total of four world championships between them, with Duffy winning the title in 2016 and 2017, Zaferes in 2019 and Taylor-Brown in 2020. However, the ultimate crown – the Olympic title – belongs to Duffy, who has won Bermuda’s first-ever gold medal at an Olympic Games, and only the second medal of any colour for her country.
After the race, Duffy spoke about what it meant to her to win gold, after injuries almost forced her to give up the sport:
“It feels incredible. I mean, of course it makes all the injuries, hard times and the tears completely worth it,” she said.
“But yeah, this last extra year it’s been quite challenging. And definitely, I had pressure mounting.
“I am so thrilled I could execute, and yeah, I achieved my dream of winning a gold medal, but also winning Bermuda’s first gold medal.
“It’s bigger than me and that’s a really cool moment.”
Britain’s Taylor-Brown was also ecstatic with her silver medal, particularly after the issues she suffered with her bike.
“I was really happy that we had a group of five and I thought ‘I’m more than happy with fifth place now, I’ll take that’. And coming in the bike with 1km, 1.5km to go I just heard ‘tzzzssss’ and I thought, ‘fantastic’.
“I decided not to stop and change my wheel, I just tried to see what could have happened as I had already lost time, but only 15 seconds so it wasn’t all too bad.
“Then I just went really fast on the third lap of the run, I suffered after that but it paid off.”