Olympic hopeful Bermudian Flora Duffy continued her impressive return to action after a 10-month break with victory at an International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Cup event in this spa city on Sunday.
Duffy, 32, reversed placings with Georgia Taylor-Brown, who had beaten her over the sprint distance in Hamburg, Germany a week ago, finishing more than 90 seconds ahead of her British rival.
Duffy prevailed over the challenging Olympic-distance course, including the Bohemia region’s cobbled hills, to cross the line in a time of two hours, five minutes and 17 seconds, with Taylor-Brown, the new world champion, finishing in 2:06.54, narrowly ahead of Holland’s Maya Kingma in third in 2:07.07 to complete the podium.
Sunday’s elite women’s victory proved that the injury troubles that have dogged Duffy, a two-time former world champion, were finally behind her.
“Wow! It was so hard, man that was a shock to the system,” admitted a thrilled Duffy afterwards.
“A first Olympic distance of the year and on such a challenging course and with such a stacked field.
“I was just trying to recover from the swim for most of the bike, to be honest, which isn’t easy on this type of course. I wanted to ride strong but not overextend myself and the run just felt like survival.
“I’m just so thrilled to win, it has been a while since I’ve done it at this level and it’s a huge confidence boost and something I feel personally I’ve really needed,” added Duffy.
The Karlovy Vary race was the first in a series of three ITU World Cups to wrap up the shortened 2020 season. It will be followed by a sprint-distance event in Arzachena, Italy on October 10, and an Olympic-distance season closer in Miyazaki, Japan from October 24-25.
Last weekend, Duffy claimed silver in the standalone World Triathlon Series (WTS) race in Germany, having been deprived of the chance to seek Olympic glory in Tokyo this summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The world champion is usually decided after a series of events on the WTS calendar, but the Hamburg race became the world championship after organisers were forced to cancel all the other WTS races, including one in Bermuda in April.
Duffy was ruled out for eight months last season because of a career-threatening foot injury before making a superb return to competitive action, winning a fifth XTERRA world title in Kapalua, Hawaii, in October last year.
She was confident of carrying her strong form and was considered a medal contender at the Tokyo Olympics which have now been postponed until next year because of the pandemic.
Heavyweight boxer Clarence Hill remains Bermuda’s only Olympic medal winner, having taken bronze at the 1976 Games in Montreal.