Olympic champion Flora Duffy has became the first triathlete in history to retain back-to-back Commonwealth titles.
The Bermudan’s performance in Sutton Park, Birmingham, on 29 July, was almost script perfect from start to finish, leading a two-woman breakaway with home-team favourite Georgia Taylor-Brown midway on the bike before a characteristically dominant run leg saw her cross the line for her second Commonwealth title.
Taylor-Brown, racing on “a flat day” in her first-ever Commonwealth Games, collected silver to a grateful crowd, while Scotland’s Beth Potter also won her first Commonwealth triathlon medal with a bronze.
What happened in the Commonwealth Games’ women’s triathlon swim?
As with the men’s race just three hours before, the starting horn caught several athletes out coming so soon after the ‘on your marks’ instruction.
But it didn’t trouble recent two-time WTCS medallist Potter, who, more known for her destructive run speed, found herself leading the field ahead of Duffy, Taylor-Brown and England’s Sophie Coldwell for the 750m swim.
What happened in the Commonwealth Games’ women’s triathlon bike?
Potter was first in and out of T1, making the initial jump to the front for the 20km bike. But conscious of run legs, she soon held back to work as a five with Duffy, Taylor-Brown, Coldwell and Canada’s Emy Legault.
At the start of the second lap of four 5ks, Taylor-Brown and Duffy had other ideas, creating some clear air to form a two-person breakaway, the chasing trio unable to provide an answer. By the end of lap two the gap was 16 seconds and growing.
One lap later and that gap was more than doubled to 34secs, the leading pair now in a fight for gold.
By T2 the gap was double again, Duffy and Taylor-Brown heading onto to the two-lap 5km run with a minute in hand. But Olympic champ Duffy had a smoother transition than Olympic silver medallist Taylor-Brown, and was able to slowly pull out a small lead of by the end of lap one.
What happened in the Commonwealth Games’ women’s triathlon run?
2.5km later and the gap between the Tokyo Games’ medallists was up to 16secs, the gold all but assured for one of the sport’s most decorated athletes. With a massive smile of relief, Duffy crossed the line in 55:25, proudly brandishing the Bermudan flag.
A whopping 41secs later saw Taylor-Brown cross the line to take silver in her first Commonwealth Games, acting out a bow towards the Olympic and World Triathlon champion, who had once again, in a major one-day competition, trumped her to the top podium step.
Rounding off the podium was Potter, who ran through 1:21mins down on Duffy to collect bronze in her second Commies outing for triathlon and win Scotland their first medal of the Games.
That left Coldwell to take fourth, fifth for Sophie Linn (AUS), sixth Non Stanford (WAL), seventh Liv Mathias (WAL), eighth Simone Ackerman (RSA), ninth Nicole van de Kaay (NZL), 1oth Legault.
Quotes from the Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Flora Duffy
“Today was really cool. My parents are here, loads of friends and family who didn’t get to watch me in Tokyo. So it’s pretty special to get to deliver a great race for them today.
“This is my fourth Commonwealth Games, and I have won twice so I think I can leave on a very happy note.”
Next plans? “The race in Bermuda is a big one for me and I get to race at home as the Olympic, world and two-time Commonwealth champion, so I’m just going to enjoy that moment cause most people don’t get that.”
Quotes from the Commonwealth Games silver medallist, Georgia Taylor-Brown
“On a good day it’s still hard to keep up with Flora. She’s so super speedy, and I know that because I’ve been beaten by her many times. I have so much respect for her, she’s an incredible athlete and a great friend as well.
“It’s so nice to race with her, we’re always looking out for each other on the race course. It’s hard being beaten by one another but like I said we respect each other. But hats off to Flora, she was incredible today.
“I just didn’t have it today, I’m just a bit lethargic, you know when you have those days? I just felt like I needed to walk. I think I’m just ready for a break now.
“I worked as hard as I could on the bike, and I knew I wanted to get as much of a gap as possible. I knew I was probably going to suffer on the run because of that, but I didn’t think I’d suffer as much as I did!
“I dug deep and found a little bit extra to get me up the hills but silver was all I could do today. But I’m super happy for my first Commonwealth Games.”
Quotes from Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, Beth Potter
Quotes from Commonwealth Games fourth place, Sophie Coldwell
Quotes from Team England’s Sian Rainsley
Top image: Ben Lumley/World Triathlon