Flora Duffy will be the favourite at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, next year, according to the only woman to beat her this season.
Ashleigh Gentle has cranked up the pressure on Duffy, insisting the Bermudian is the one to beat on the Gold Coast “whether she likes it or not”.
Duffy came about as close to perfection as possible in retaining her ITU World Triathlon Series title, winning six of seven races and finishing second in the other in Montreal, where she was beaten by Gentle.
“[Duffy] pretty much had a perfect season ... the pressure is on her and that’s definitely fine with me,” Gentle told the Gold Coast Bulletin. “She has been racing really well and deserves that, too. Whether she likes that or not, she is the favourite and I just hope that there will be ten times more people cheering for me rather than her.”
With her home crowd cheering her on, it will be hard to discount Gentle, a Gold Coast native, who will be looking to upset Duffy after enjoying a breakthrough year.
“Racing at home is definitely underestimated and makes a big difference,” said the 26-year-old, who finished runner-up in the WTS. “When you’re hurting in triathlon and you have people screaming your name, you find another gear.”
Gentle, who finished ninth at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, one place behind Duffy, believes she has become a more dynamic competitor since teaming up with Jamie Tucker, who trained Olympic champion Gwen Jorgensen.
“There have been so many things I have learnt this year,” Gentle said. “I’m a bit more of a dynamic racer and ready for whatever course there is.”
The men’s and women’s individual triathlons will be on April 4, with the course similar to the one used in the Gold Coast leg of the WTS.
The northern end of Southport’s Broadwater Parklands will host the start, finish and transitions, with the bike and run legs to head north along a flat, technical route.
Gentle said it will give spectators the chance to watch triathletes produce some fast racing in what will be the first sprint-distance run at a major games.
“You always want to keep progressing,” she added. “If I keep focusing on the things that I worked on this year and if I can improve on them in training then, yeah, I hope to keep producing the results on the course.”
Duffy has two races left this season — the Xterra World Championship in Kapalua, Maui, on October 29 and the Island House Triathlon in Bahamas on November 17 and 18.