Duffy and Butterfield hope to team up on Gold Coast

  • Team player: Butterfield hopes to compete in the individual and mixed relay event at the Commonwealth Games next year

(Photograph by Korupt Vision)

Flora Duffy and Tyler Butterfield could team up as part of an exciting foursome in the mixed relay at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in Australia.

The pair of top triathletes would be joined by teenagers Tyler Smith and Erica Hawley in the event, which has switched from an Olympic to a sprint distance.

It is understood that Duffy and Butterfield have already qualified for the Games, to be held April next year, while Smith and Hawley are close to meeting the qualification standards set by the Bermuda Triathlon Association.

Those recommendations have been submitted to the Bermuda Olympic Association’s standards committee and could be ratified by the end of this week.

Steven Petty, the BTA president, said he was confident Bermuda’s top four triathletes could form a competitive team on the Gold Coast.

“We’re just waiting for the BOA to ratify our qualification standards,” Petty said. “All our four triathletes are pretty accomplished, certainly at the shorter distances, and I don’t think we would be embarrassed at all. It may be that we have four triathletes there for the individual competition.

“If they’re there, they can definitely enter the mixed relay.

“[Organisers] have also said that there’s a possibility that triathletes could go just for the relay. But I think all of ours would like to go for both.”

Duffy, the ITU world champion, will likely be among the medal contenders on the Gold Coast. It would be Duffy’s third Games, having finished eighth in both Melbourne in 2006 and Glasgow in 2014.

Duffy has also expressed an interest in competing in the mountain bike. Considering she is regarded as one of the top cyclists in women’s triathlon, the mountain bike could be a natural crossover for Duffy, a three-times world champion at Xterra — an off-road event that includes mountain biking.

“Flora is a shoo-in to compete [on the Gold Coast] as long as she’s injury-free,” Petty said.

“I think she’s quietly putting a lot of pressure on herself. Based on her present form, I’d think she would be a medal contender.”

After finishing nineteenth at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Butterfield made a decision to focus on the longer form of the sport, with a view to conquering the Ironman World Championships in Kona.

However, the lure of competing alongside Duffy for the first time at a major competition appears to have persuaded him to alter his plans.

“Tyler doesn’t do Olympic or sprint distance on a consistent basis,” Petty added. “He’s more of a long-distance athlete.

“He’s still very competitive in the Olympic and sprint distance event, though. I’ve spoken to him and he’s interested in participating.”

The mixed relay, featuring two men and two women, was contested at the Commonwealth Games for the first time in Glasgow in an Olympic-distance format.

In the Gold Coast, the event would involve each athlete completing a super-sprint-distance course covering a 300 metres swim, nine-kilometre bike and 2km run before tagging off to the next team-mate, with the fastest combined time winning the race. The mixed relay is among nine new events added to the Olympic programme for the Tokyo Games in 2020.