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Olympic Champion Flora Duffy details the extent of her injury struggles leading into Paris 2024

The defending Olympic champion reveals the extent of her injury struggles and shares her plans for Paris.

Staff Reporter
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Having not raced short course triathlon since the WTCS Finals in November 2022, questions have been raised over whether reigning Olympic Champion Flora Duffy will be on the start line to defend her title in Paris this summer.

Battling a knee injury that had kept her sidelined for over a year, the Bermudian star shared that she will be back in 2024, with her short course career set to come to an end this season as she moves up to the T100 Triathlon World Tour in September.

Before that however, Duffy confirmed on the ‘Chasing the Burn‘ podcast, that if her knee stays healthy, she will begin her final WTCS season with races in Japan and Italy before finalizing her plans for Paris.

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“It was kind of a disaster”

In a frank and honest conversation about her injury, Duffy recalled how it all started after the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, when she first noticed a pain in her knee on a run back in Bermuda.

Flora Duffy Commonwealth Games flag photo credit Ben Lumley World Triathlon
Flora Duffy Commonwealth Games flag [Photo credit: Ben Lumley / World Triathlon]

“My injury turned out to be a lot worse and a lot more difficult to heal and rehab than I had initially thought. It flared up for the first time after the Commonwealth Games in 2022.

“I was home in Bermuda after that running and my knee started bothering me, but most people didn’t think it was much and I kept training on it, so it wasn’t until after the PTO Dallas race that I realized things weren’t great.

“It was confirmed by a doctor here in Boulder that I had a partial patellar tendon tear and so I immediately had a PRP injection and continued with the rest of my season.

“My knee really fell apart in January 2023, and a scan revealed the partial tear in my patellar tendon but also a very bad looking tendon in general, that was very thick with some cartilage damage and an oedema on my tendon and my fat pad.

“It was kind of a disaster and looking back it is stupid to think that a bit of rehab and backing off training would heal my knee. Obviously it is really easy to look back on things like that, but it has just been a huge puzzle and a very frustrating process to get healthy.” 

“The final piece felt like a miracle”

After things started to deteriorate at the beginning of 2023, Duffy said that she wishes she had done things differently, as it took a further six months for her fortunes to finally take a turn.

Flora Duffy, Taylor Knibb, Beth Potter - WTCS Bermuda 2022
[Photo credit: World Triathlon]

“Last January when I had the MRI, I was in Stellenbosch at the time and wish I had just jumped on a plane and flew back to Boulder. I worked with two doctors here this past summer and wish I had worked with one of them then and had a PRP injection back then.

“Instead, I kept getting further and further down this rabbit hole of rehab which you think is going to work. I had multiple PRP injections, I have done a lot of strengthening rehab stuff and a lot of blood flow restriction work, but sometimes these injuries are just like this.

“In the end, things started to turn in a positive direction in July last year, which is when I had some pretty aggressive PRP injections and I bumped into a close friend in the medical space who directed me to the right people.”

Despite seeing some gradual improvement, the 36-year-old was still unable to straighten her leg and after a frank conversation with her physio in December, experienced the lowest point of her recovery process.

“That’s when I thought it could be it, the end, because someone who had been in my life for ten years and had stayed quiet told me that I might have to think about it [retiring].”

“The final piece felt like a miracle, because throughout this time in the back of my mind it felt like the rapid decline of my career, because I had seen a lot of good people who hadn’t been able to get me healthy.

“However the next day, I went to see a sports doctor and asked him if he could see anything that would help, because at that moment I was at the point of retiring.

“He did an ultrasound, found a bunch of scar tissue, then gave me an injection that broke it all up. Within two days, the residual pain in my knee was gone! It was such a whiplash of emotions in that 72 hours because I went from my lowest point to then turning it all around.” 

“A big reason why I want to go back”

Having now returned to swim, bike and run training, Duffy reported that she is targeting an African Cup race as her first event of the year, before two crucial WTCS races that will determine her Pontoon position in Paris.

Flora Duffy WTCS Bermuda 2022
Flora Duffy wins WTCS Bermuda in 2022 (Photo – World Triathlon).

“The loose plan is to maybe do an African cup as a first race back, then WTCS Yokohama and WTCS Cagliari.

“My spot is secure for Paris, but I would like to boost my ranking spot so I can get a better pontoon position in Paris, because the swim is quite tricky. I won’t race after Cagliari until Paris.”

Asked why defending her title is so important to her, the four-time WTCS world champion revealed that going back as the reigning gold medalist played a big part, as did representing Bermuda.

“Going back as a defending Olympic champion is a cool position to be in and coming from a small island where winning a medal is so important is a big reason why I want to go back.” 

Tomos Land
Written by
Tomos Land
Tomos Land is a triathlon & running journalist whose expertise lies in the professional world of short course & long distance triathlon, though he also boasts an extensive knowledge of ultra-running.

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