Well this promises to be a tough (and very interesting for us!) weekend for Bermudan Olympic champ, Dame Flora Duffy. (She was made a Dame of the British Empire on New Year’s Eve, 2021.) The defending world champion is entered as the top seed at Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant, and she’s also expected to be in Montreal to defend her title there at next weekend’s World Triathlon Championships Sprint and Relay.
While the double seems like a bit of a stretch, it is likely the only chance Duffy will be able to qualify for this year’s Ironman 70.3 World Championship in St. George, Utah. She was scheduled to compete at Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga last month, but was forced to pull out of that race when she came down with COVID for the second time. The race in Mont-Tremblant is one of the last events that will serve as a qualifier for this year’s world championship – qualifying ends on July 3.
According to officials at Ironman, they are expecting Duffy in Mont-Tremblant at this point, and she’s featured prominently in the pre-race releases for the world’s race, too. You can see the starting list for next weekend’s 70.3 race here, and here are the start lists for the world championships in Montreal.
After having to withdraw from 70.3 Chattanooga, Duffy returned to racing last weekend at the World Triathlon Championship Series Leeds, where she finished seventh. She hasn’t had a finish that “low” in the last four years, a sign of how much she lost dealing with the COVID diagnosis.
“I had a pretty rough few weeks between (WTCS) Yokohama and here,” she told tri247.com. “I have had COVID twice. I took a massive break at the end of last year, then I got COVID, so I only really got training in March.”
Duffy is no-doubt having to make some tough decisions on how best to deal with her conflicting goals in 2022. While it would appear she would like to compete in St. George later this year, she is also looking to defend her world and Commonwealth Games titles this year, too. A few days ago Bermuda announced that Duffy would be leading a team of four triathletes to the Games in Birmingham, England this year. Joining her on the mixed relay team will be Erica Hawley, Tyler Butterfield and Tyler Smith. If she does end up at the 70.3 worlds in St. George, would she be able to go after a seventh Xterra world title, too?
Ironman start lists are notoriously inaccurate – athletes have to enter the races early, and often hedge their bets by entering a few races around the same time in case something happens. We reached out to Duffy for comment on her plans, but haven’t heard back from the world champ. Today she did post some photos from a training session with Butterfield and American Sam Long, who is gearing up to compete at Challenge Roth in a few weeks.
View this post on Instagram
Who knows if the double is really in the cards. With Montreal’s unique Elimination race format, the elites compete over two days on a 300 m swim, 7.2 km bike and 2 km run course. There are qualification races on Friday, followed by a three-part final on Saturday, which means Duffy could be in for four races in Montreal before taking on the half-distance event in Mont-Tremblant. Last year Duffy won the race just weeks after her Olympic gold medal, out-running Taylor Knibb for the win in the final race.
It’s hard to imagine we will see Duffy at both events, but if we do, it will add some spice to what promises to be an exciting weekend.