Flora Duffy takes a historic Gold for Bermuda at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games triathlon with Georgia-Taylor Brown securing Silver and Katie Zaferes Bronze.
With an utterly dominant performance on the run, Bermuda’s Flora Duffy took the country’s first-ever Olympic Gold medal in Tokyo, powering away from the rest of the breakaway pack to win by 1:14.
Meanwhile, Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown had to overcome a flat tyre towards the end of the bike but managed to overcome that deficit and ensure the Silver medal while the USA’s Katie Zaferes was back in superb form to take Olympic Bronze.
“To be an Olympic champion has been my dream since I was a little girl and did my first triathlon,” Duffy told World Triathlon. “Going through my head, I guess was a bit of relief, coming into the Olympics as one of the favourites, there’s a lot of pressure and expectations. I guess I also knew that I was Bermuda’s first medal hope in many, many years and something I wanted to achieve for myself but also for my country. I was definitely overwhelmed, I didn’t know what to do, what to think. It was a really special moment.”
How It Played Out
The race start was delayed by 15 minutes due to a storm that waterlogged the course but Tokyo Bay was calm by the time the gun went off.
As predicted, it was Britain’s Jess Learmonth who went straight to the front in the swim with fellow pre-race favourites – countrywoman Georgia Taylor-Brown, Bermuda’s Flora Duffy and the USA’s Katie Zaferes close behind.
Continuing to stretch things out over the 1500m swim, Learmonth led a group of seven from the water that also included the USA’s Summer Rappaport, Brazil’s Vittoria Lopes and Germany’s Laura Lindemann. The group’s stellar swimming had created a 42-second lead on the nearest chaser as they mounted their bikes in T1.
Working well together in the early stages of the 40km bike, the leaders began to make more time on the second group, edging ahead over the soaking and technical course. Rappaport was the first to succumb to the pace. The American dropped back on lap three of eight to join the chasers, who were headed by double Olympic medallist Nicola Spirig of Switzerland.
The leaders continued to charge hard, distancing Lopes on lap six of eight, leaving a five-strong group whose lead was increasing to the chase group. Towards the end of the bike, the rain cleared up but there was late drama when Taylor-Brown suffered a puncture and lost time having to ride the last 2km or so on a rear flat tyre.
Taylor-Brown’s mechanical gave the other four athletes a 22-second lead on the Brit and over a minute to the rest of the field. Duffy stormed out of transition, the Bermudian immediately taking pole position to drop Learmonth and Lindemann with only Zaferes temporarily able to hold the pace.
Duffy was quickly alone and gaining heaps of time on the others. Taylor-Brown soon picked off Learmonth and Lindemann to move into the medal positions behind Zaferes. By the end of lap three of four, Duffy’s lead had blossomed to 1:07 while Taylor-Brown managed to come up to Zaferes then make a decisive pass.
Duffy’s Gold was never in danger though – the Bermudian came down the blue carpet to claim the country’s first-ever Olympic Gold medal in 1:55:36 with a sensational 33:00 10km run.
Taylor-Brown finished 1:14 behind to seal Silver, her 33:52 run the day’s second-fastest. A jubilant Katie Zaferes came across the line 13 seconds later to take Bronze.
Behind them, Rachel Klamer of the Netherlands out-sprinted France’s Leonie Periault for fourth place with Nicola Spirig taking sixth.