Flora Duffy wins Bermuda's 1st-ever Olympic gold medal with women's triathlon triumph

Flora Duffy achieved instant national hero status when she won Bermuda's first-ever Olympic gold medal on Tuesday after delivering a dominant run leg for an emphatic victory in the women's triathlon on a stormy Tokyo course.

Great Britain's Taylor-Brown claims silver, Katie Zaferes of the U.S. collects bronze

Bermuda's Flora Duffy poses with her historic gold medal after winning the women's individual triathlon on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. (Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

Flora Duffy achieved instant national hero status when she won Bermuda's first-ever Olympic gold medal on Tuesday after delivering a dominant run leg for an emphatic victory in the women's triathlon on a stormy Tokyo course.

Duffy, 33, was part of a group of seven who broke clear at the start of the 40km bike but then stamped her authority on the race with a fantastic performance over the 10km run to finish in one hour, 55.36 minutes.

Great Britain's Georgia Taylor-Brown overcame a flat tire near the end of the bike leg to chase back strongly and finish second, 74 seconds behind, bagging another silver for Britain after Alex Yee's in the men's race on Monday.

Katie Zaferes, world champion in 2019, won bronze for the United States.

WATCH | Bermuda's Duffy makes Olympic history:

Flora Duffy makes history for Bermuda

4 months ago
Flora Duffy wins Bermuda's first ever Olympic gold medal, taking first place in the women's triathlon. 0:41

The victory, in her fourth Olympics, caps a wonderful career for Duffy, as she becomes her country's second Olympic medallist after Clarence Hill captured heavyweight boxing bronze at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

"I am so thrilled I could execute," Duffy said. "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."

She hailed the victory as "an incredible moment" and as Bermuda became the least populous nation to win a summer Olympic gold, its Premier David Burt sent his congratulations over Twitter, saying: "You've worked so hard and you've made an entire island proud!"

Duffy celebrates after crossing the finish line to make Olympic history. (David Goldman/The Associated Press)

Duffy maintained focus down the stretch as her lead continued to grow, never allowing herself to get overwhelmed by the weight of the historic moment she was on her way to achieving.

"I tried to just keep my composure and not allow my mind to drift to the fact that this was really happening until about the last km of the run," Duffy said. 

"I saw my husband, he's my coach, on the side of the road, and just gave him a little smile. From there I just sort of allowed all the emotions to come, but I truly don't think it'll hit me until a couple of days from now."

Canada's Kretz places 15th, Brown unable to finish

Canadian Amélie Kretz improved upon her Rio performance by finishing 15th, achieving the best result by a Canadian woman in Olympic history.

The Ste-Therese, Que., native finished 34th during her Olympic debut in 2016, and she has been one of the top Canadian triathletes since winning World Cup gold in 2013.

"Obviously you always hope for more. I didn't have an ideal swim for me, but I didn't give up. I thought of everyone back home and I was fighting for them. I was fighting for me so I gave everything I had today and can't be disappointed with that," Kretz said in a Triathlon Canada Instagram post.

"I've been training well coming into the race. I've known that my run and even my bike and swim are world class, but I haven't been able to put all three together yet. My running legs were good today and I'm glad I could show it."

Joanna Brown of Carp, Ont., made her Olympic debut as the other Canadian in the event but was unable to finish the race.

Triathlon Canada, in another Instagram post, said that Brown had been battling with a flat front wheel right off the start. After it was replaced, the triathlete then contended with yet another flat, this time on the rear. 

"I jumped on my bike and my front wheel was flat. I rode three laps trying the best I could to stay upright," Brown said in the post's caption. 

"I decided to switch out the front, and the wheel I was given was running about 120 [pounds per square inch] so I couldn't keep it stable on the corners. I started to feel my back wheel slipping, and I realized that I had a rear flat as well. I rode the last three laps with a rear flat wheel."

Brown claimed individual bronze and helped Canada finish fourth in mixed relay at the last Commonwealth Games in 2018. The 28-year-old was just the fourth Canadian triathlete to reach the podium in the event's history.

Canada's Amélie Kretz, right, trails behind Miriam Casillas Garcia of Spain. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

A storm with high winds forced a 15-minute delay to the race start but conditions settled a little once they were underway. Duffy was part of a group who exited the 1,500m swim closely together and got a jump on the main field.

That group slimmed to five, and built the gap to a commanding 80 seconds, though the unfortunate Taylor-Brown lost 22 seconds on the final lap as a flat tire meant she had to negotiate every slippery turn almost at a standstill.

Duffy flew through transition and, with Zaferes, opened an instant lead at the start of the run.

By halfway Duffy had forged 50m clear and a fired-up Taylor-Brown overhauled Zaferes at the end of the third lap.

"The first lap of the run was panic mode," Taylor-Brown said. "I think I definitely paid for it in the latter part of the run but it paid off."

She was never going to catch Duffy, however, and the Bermudan enjoyed every moment of her triumphant charge down the finishing blue carpet, clenching her fists in joy and celebration.

Looking almost as happy was 39-year-old mother-of-three Nicola Spirig, the 2012 champion and 2016 runner up, who ran superbly to take sixth place in her fifth Olympics.

The mixed relay event makes its Olympic debut on Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET, and it will be streamed live on CBC Gem, the CBC Olympics app and CBC Sports' Tokyo 2020 website.

With files from CBC Sports

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