Nothing to apologise for, Flora
It was the news that we had been fearing but had been loath to accept: that Flora Duffy would not be at the start line to defend her title at the MS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda in less than two weeks’ time.
The injury to her foot has been so aggravating that the champion triathlete finally had to accept defeat that she would not get to compete at elite level again in front of her fans.
At least not for now.
She will make an appearance, though, but in the age-group relay first thing on the Saturday morning, so those looking for a competitive view of Flora will need to set the alarm clocks.
Just as she is out on the course, Flora led from the front in getting the sad news out to the world yesterday — and she did a fine job of it, too.
The most heartfelt of her message read: “Thank you for all the support, the belief and the understanding. I am devastated and feel like I am letting so many down. It has not been for the lack of trying. I’ll continue to strive towards being my best with all I have.”
News flash: you have nothing to feel sorry about, Flora,
The ride you have given Bermuda over the past four years, in particular, has been golden and this country can feel nothing but gratitude for being carried on this ride, while wishing you a full recovery.
The endgame here has to be Tokyo in 2020. From a purely sporting perspective, Flora has been there and done it where it pertains to the World Triathlon Series.
She tackled the WTS fully loaded after mastering the Xterra circuit and — apart from the metronomic Gwen Jorgensen — the women who had hitherto dominated the podium hardly knew what hit them.
Race after race, Flora pounded them into submission. Exceptional in the swim, brilliant on the bike, she has forced strategy to be re-evaluated. Those right at the top of the elite level planned to reel her in during the run, which was easily Flora’s weakest string to her bow. And, for a while, they did.
But when she began to strengthen and add pace — on both the five-kilometre run for the sprint races and the more conventional 10km over the Olympic distance — it was “good night, Irene”.
A clean pair of heels became the norm, and Bermudians got to witness this up close and personal on one of the most fantastic days in Bermuda’s sporting history on April 28, 2018.
Unbeknown to us, though, wear and tear was taking its toll.
And yesterday Flora made the term “posterior tibial tendon” newsworthy and sent hacks scrambling for medical journals to explain an ailment that she says wasn’t even able to be picked up by an MRI. Ultrasound detected a small tear. It is what has caused Flora pain and what surely would have ended her career prematurely had she continued a training regimen that puts no small amount of strain on her arch.
With the necessary time to heal, she can begin the journey to be back to something approaching her best.
True champions endure. Flora’s constitution, according to as shrewd and respected a judge as Tim Don, is said to be as strong as anyone’s at the international elite level.
In the event of any wavering, however, she need only look in the direction of Tiger Woods for very recent motivation and to know there is a route back to the top — no matter how low you feel.
Another day in the life of Bermuda, in which we suffered a fourth road traffic fatality so early in the year, followed by a traffic crash that left a 21-year-old with serious leg injuries and an armed robbery in a low-income neighbourhood, delivers a more acute sense of perspective.
Flora will come again.