Hundreds gathered in Hamilton last night for the opening ceremony of MS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda and a special edition of Harbour Nights.
Bermuda’s triathlon hero Flora Duffy performed the official countdown for the start of the competition tomorrow.
Duffy, who is nursing a leg injury, told the crowd: “It’s very disappointing not be racing this weekend,.”
She said, with the Tokyo Olympics next year, she could not risk doing further damage to her leg.
She also announced that she intended to retire after the Grand Final of the World Triathlon Series in 2021.
Triathlon fans said they were delighted that Bermuda was to host a major world event over the next few days, but were disappointed that Duffy would not race in an individual event.
Geraldine Lee said: “It’s an excellent venture, especially now that the tourism season is in. I’m just disappointed about Flora’s incident.”
Claira Simons added: “It’s amazing; it’s very exciting. I came last year and enjoyed the experience. It’s a good showcase for Bermuda,” .
Debbie Simons said: “I think it’s a great thing for Bermuda. I’m sorry Flora can’t participate fully, but at least she is in two events. It puts us on the map in a positive way,”
Duffy’s mother, Maria Duffy, was also among the crowds on Front Street.
Ms Duffy, who will also take part in the event, said her daughter made the right decision not to participate in the big races.
She added: “She is doing the right thing. Tokyo is next year. That is the goal.”
She said with Duffy out of the main competition, people would see more of her at WTS Bermuda.
It was a festive mood during the opening ceremony with entertainment from the Simons Brothers who started off the evening with entertainment.
They were later joined by the Royal Bermuda Regiment Band & Corps of Drums and a Gombey troupe.
Charles Gosling, Mayor of Hamilton, said Bermuda was ready to repeat putting on a good show this year after doing a great job last year.
Greg Welch, the Voice of Triathlon, said he was very excited to be back in Bermuda.
Mr Welch, who had commentated on the ITU’s live broadcasts for the past 18 years said: “Bermuda was one of my favourite stops on tour when I competed.
“Also, with the grand final being here in the next few years enables the athletes to scout the course even more and plot their race plans accordingly.”
He added that this year, it will be “a completely different women’s race with the home-town hero out”.
Mr Welch said: “Flora now has to refocus, get her injuries behind her and not look back.
“She is in the prime of her Olympic-distance career. She still starts favourite for Tokyo in my eyes, but she needs to get healthy first.”
He said he expected the men’s race to be very competitive.
Mr Welch said: “The Men’s race will be tight as normal and I don’t think a Norwegian breakaway will happen again as they will be watched carefully.
“This event will be won in the final metres of the run leg.”
Duffy is expected to sign T-shirts at Gibbons today from 4pm to 5pm.