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Flora Duffy won a first gold medal at the Olympic Games for Bermuda with a brilliant performance and won the women’s triathlon in Tokyo 2020.
The 33-year-old, world champion in 2016 and 2017, mastered treacherous conditions in swimming and on the bike with almost no flaws before taking the decisive step to victory in the run.
Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown saw her hopes for gold ruined by a flat rear tire late in the cycling stage, but fought her way back brilliantly to oust the American Katie Zaferes to silver. The American took bronze.
Swimming – Learmonth on fire
The conditions in Tokyo were very different from the men’s race on Monday – then it was brutal heat and humidity, now there was torrential rain that delayed the planned start by 15 minutes.
The Briton Jess Learmonth went swimming hard and led the field out of the water at the end of the first lap just ahead of the Brazilian Vittoria Lopes. The Americans Zaferes and Summer Rappaport were also in the presence of Duffy and Learmonth’s British team-mate Taylor-Brown.
A top group of seven were eliminated for T1, with Learmonth (18:24) still ahead and Zaferes, Rappaport, Duffy and Taylor-Brown all coming very close. The third British athlete Vicky Holland was meanwhile in the second group, almost 50 seconds behind.
The field was already well-filled when they drove to their motorcycles, so much speed Learmonth had brought in.
Bicycle – small but nice
Learmonth led this select group of leaders through the early stages of the bike stage, but at the end of the first lap Taylor-Brown and Duffy took the lead. Rappaport meanwhile clung desperately to the group’s back. The pursuers were more than a minute behind the pace, with 2012 Olympic champion Nicola Spirig typically leading them.
The status quo was maintained in the second round, with Duffy leading the leading group along with Zaferes, Taylor-Brown and Learmonth. Rappaport was still struggling to maintain her position at the rear of this group. The gap to the chasing group led by Spirig was still more than a minute.
Seven turned six in the top flight by the end of lap third when Rappaport fell back to cross the finish line 37 seconds behind the pace. Up ahead there were still the large Taylor-Brown, Learmonth, Duffy, and Zaferes guns. They were accompanied by the German Laura Lindemann and the Brazilian Lopes.
The group led by Spirig did not cut into this huge gap at all – it rather grew from round to round. Briton Holland, meanwhile, struggled and was almost two minutes behind the lead, which after the race revealed that she had fallen behind in a bicycle accident.
On the half-distance on the bike, the six-man leading group was still very intact and seemed to want to fight for the medals even at this early point in time. The pursuers – still with Spirig in the lead – were 69 seconds behind.
Hardly anything changed on lap 5, the six-man leading group was 75 seconds ahead of Spirig and the others. Lopes was next to fall off the top on the next round, leaving a group of five at the forefront of affairs.
Torture continued into the last of the eight bike laps when Taylor-Brown suffered a flat rear tire and fell off the top group. A devastating development that was 22 seconds behind the pace in T2. Spirig and Co. were in the meantime a little more than a minute behind the lead.
Run – crucial from Duffy
Zaferes, Lindemann, Duffy and Learmonth set out on the 10k run knowing they were in the best position to fight for medals while Taylor-Brown tried desperately to find their way back.
Duffy made the first decisive move on the first round of four on the run, pushing away from Zaferes. Taylor-Brown, meanwhile, made strides when she picked up teammates Learmonth and Lindemann to get back into a medal position. At the end of this first lap, Flora was 17 seconds ahead of Zaferes and Taylor-Brown another nine seconds.
Flora, who looked sovereign from the front, pulled away on the second lap and was now 47 seconds ahead of Zaferes halfway through the run. Taylor-Brown was only five seconds behind the American in the battle for silver.
Dominant Duffy extended her lead to 67 seconds on the third of four laps, while Taylor-Brown overtook Zaferes and moved up to second when the pair hit the bell.
Flora was still running as she completed the final lap to take a famous victory in a time of 1:55:36. She was 74 seconds ahead of silver medalist Taylor-Brown, while Zaferes was another 13 seconds behind the bronze medal.
Results of the women’s Olympic triathlon
Tokyo – Tuesday July 27, 2021
- Flora Duffy (BER) – 1:55:36
- Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR) – 1:56:50
- Katie Zaferes (USA) – 1:57:03
- Rachel Klamer (NED) – 1:57:48
- Leonie Periault (FRA) – 1:57:49
- Nicola Spirig (SUI) – 1:58:05
- Alice Betto (ITA) – 1:58:22
- Laura Lindemann (GER) – 1:58:24
- Jess Learmonth (GBR) – 1:58:28
- Valerie Barthelemy (BEL) – 1:58:49
13. Vicky Holland (GBR) – 2:00:10