2018 Commonwealth Games: Flora Duffy of Bermuda wins 1st Gold Coast gold
Flora Duffy left no doubt about her status as a two-time world champion and the No. 1-ranked woman in triathlon. (CWG 2018 live updates)
The Bermuda athlete, who started competing in triathlons when she was just seven years old, won the sprint race Thursday by 43 seconds to take the first gold medal at the 21st Commonwealth Games.
In the final 20 or 30 meters, when her victory was guaranteed, Duffy grabbed a Bermuda flag from a spectator and draped it over her body as she crossed the finish line.
“I felt very good today, very consistent in every part of the race,” Duffy said. “And pretty cool that I won the first gold medal of these games.”
Duffy, 30, came out the opening 750-meter swim leg just behind Jessica Learmonth, both around 9 minutes, 35 seconds. But Duffy quickly caught the English racer and the pair staged their own duel for much of the 20-kilometer bike leg — four laps around the Broadwater Parklands — trading places numerous times.
Cycling is Duffy’s strongest leg — so strong that she is entered in the mountain bike competition on April 12.
Under sunny skies and a temperature of 27 Celsius (81 Fahrenheit), Duffy and Learmonth finished the cycle leg together in 39.23.
Duffy took a five-second lead over Learmonth early in the 5-kilometer run and then powered away to lead by 18 seconds after the first lap.
Duffy finished the race in 56:50, with Learmonth well behind to take silver. Canadian Joanna Brown earned bronze, finishing five seconds behind Learmonth after a tight tussle over the closing meters with England’s Vicky Holland.
Learmonth said she was “ecstatic” with her silver.
“The course was full-on and it was really hot,” she said. “I’m more used to the rain. Running is not my strength. I was hoping to win but still happy with second.”
The sprint race replaced the Olympic distance that was held at previous Commonwealth Games, and is considered to be the future of the sport. It’s half of the distance of each of the Olympic disciplines.
But the shorter race doesn’t mean it’s an easier race — Duffy says its more taxing on all the athletes.
“It’s full on, pedal to the metal all the time,” she said.” It’s very tough.”
SA’s Schoeman wins men’s gold
South Africa’s Henri Schoeman upstaged triathlon’s all-conquering Brownlees with Commonwealth Games gold as the English brothers were left trailing on Thursday.
Schoeman, third behind Alistair and Jonny Brownlee at the 2016 Olympics, seized control on the running leg to win it in 52min 31sec, seven seconds ahead of Australia’s Jacob Birtwhistle.
Scotland’s Marc Austin took bronze while Jonny Brownlee dropped back to finish seventh and Alistair Brownlee, who had hip surgery last August, was 10th.
Nineteen gold medals are up for grabs on the opening day of the Games, which feature more than 4,000 athletes from 71 nations and territories.