Flora Duffy became the first triathlete to retain a Commonwealth Games title by claiming a brilliant gold medal in Friday’s women’s elite race in Birmingham.
The reigning Olympic and World Champion had endured a frustrating 2022 until last month, when a dominant WTCS win in Hamburg hinted that she might be back to her best.
She emphasised that in terrific fashion by pulling clear of great rival Georgia Taylor-Brown on the run to retain the title she had won on the Gold Coast in 2018.
Swim – Potter a revelation
We knew that Potter was one of, if not the best runner in this field, but we weren’t quite prepared for the revelation she proved in the water.
The Scot put in a terrific performance to lead the field on the 750m swim ahead of reigning Olympic Champion Duffy, who spent most of the leg sitting on Potter’s feet. Right behind them were English contenders Taylor-Brown and Coldwell.
The big four exited the water in Sutton Park within five seconds of each other, followed by Emy Legault of Canada, Natalie van Coevorden, Simone Ackermann of South Africa and Welsh pair Non Stanford and Olivia Mathias.
Bike – Duffy and GTB step on the gas
Potter’s T1 was a thing of beauty as she breezed through to head out onto the 20k bike leg alone, but pretty soon she was looking over her shoulder for some company. She was swiftly joined by Duffy, Coldwell, Taylor-Brown and Legault in a lead group of five.
That lead group was content to share the work, each putting in stints at the front as they tried to stay clear of the chasers. They had a significant advantage of around 27 seconds at the end of Lap 1 of 4 on the bike leg. The chasing pack was led by Stanford.
Duffy kicked clear early on Lap 2, putting in a powerful surge on an uphill climb. Only Taylor-Brown was able to respond while Potter, Coldwell and Legault struggled to keep pace.
Flora’s move had proved decisive and now it was the big two at the head of affairs with Potter’s golden hopes apparently fading. By the halfway stage of the bike leg the front two had built a gap of 16 seconds to Potter, Legault and Coldwell.
The third bike lap saw Duffy and GTB sharing the work at the front and the gap between those two and the chasing pack was getting bigger all the time. As they headed onto Lap 4 it was 34 seconds to Potter, Coldwell and Legault. Their battle now was surely for bronze.
The final lap on the bike leg was more of the same as Duffy and Taylor-Brown shared the work as they pulled further clear. Flora had the better transition to pinch a couple of seconds heading out onto the run.
The battle for bronze saw Coldwell, Potter and Legault around a minute back as they arrived in T2. At the front though it was game on for the gold.
Run – Duffy retains her crown
That gap of a couple of seconds from T2 grew swiftly as Duffy continued to step on the gas while Taylor-Brown really struggled to go with her. It was too early to say this one was over, but Flora was looking very good as they went deeper into the first run leg.
Duffy’s relentless progress saw her reach the halfway stage on the run with a lead of 16 seconds over Taylor-Brown. She now had 2.5km standing between her and gold. Potter meanwhile had taken control of the battle for bronze, leading Coldwell by 14 seconds.
The final run lap was a victory stroll for Duffy as she continued to look effortless in the pursuit of gold. Taylor-Brown was safe in silver, while Potter was booked for bronze.
At the finish line, Flora was 41 seconds clear of GTB, with Potter a further 40 seconds back in third.
Commonwealth Games Triathlon Results
Elite Women – Friday July 29, 2022, Birmingham
Sprint Distance – 750m/20k/5k
- 1. Flora Duffy (BER) – 55:25
- 2. Georgia Taylor-Brown (ENG) – 56:06
- 3. Beth Potter (SCO) – 56:46
- 4. Sophie Coldwell (ENG) – 57:06
- 5. Sophie Linn (AUS) – 57:08
- 6. Non Stanford (WAL) – 57:10
- 7. Olivia Mathias (WAL) – 57:19
- 8. Simone Ackermann (RSA) – 57:19
- 9. Nicole van der Kaay (NZL) – 57:24
- 10. Emy Legault (CAN) – 57:31