A successful defense of her ITU world title, a fourth straight Xterra world title and a big win at the Island House triathlon net Flora Duffy our Triathlete of the Year honors.
January 5, 2018 | PERSONALITY|
The tide turned in Cozumel in September, 2016. After an eighth-place finish in Rio, Flora Duffy seemed to finally be able to nail the race plan that might have got her on the podium at the Olympics - as is her typical race strategy, she broke away on the bike and held on strong through the run to hold off Gwen Jorgensen, taking the WTS world title in the process.
That was followed by her third straight Xterra World Championship title and a runner-up finish to Jorgensen at the Island House race in the Bahamas.
As good as the season was, though, Duffy realized that for her to both continue to win at the highest levels, and reach that elusive Olympic podium, she would have to improve her running. While Jorgensen was taking a year off to have a baby, Duffy, like the rest of the triathlon world, anticipated the American's return.
The extra run training would eventually pay off, but at the beginning of the season it didn't. An injury put her out of the first couple of WTS races. But when the Bermudan star did return, she was virtually unbeatable. She won in Yokohama, Leeds, Hamburg, Edmonton, finished second in Montreal, won Stockholm and rounded out the WTS season with yet another win in Rotterdam. At the Grand Final she didn't just bike away from the field, she posted the fastest run split too, proof that she was putting in place the tools to take on Jorgensen on the American's return. (Which she won't have to worry about now that Jorgensen has signalled her plan to chase the marathon in 2020.)
Duffy didn't stop winning after Rotterdam, either. She took her fourth straight Xterra world title and topped the field at the Island House event, too.
She rounded out a stellar year with her marriage to Dan Hugo, which took place at his family's farm in South Africa.
How do you win both the Ironman 70.3 and Ironman world titles and not take the Triathlete of the Year award? Yeah, we're wrestling with that, too. While it was a stellar season for the Swiss star, one that saw her overcome some major back issues to return to the top of her game, it wasn't quite the year we've come to expect from her. While she won at Ironman 70.3 Dubai, Ironman South Africa (despite the beginnings of that back injury), Challenge Roth and the two world titles, she wasn't able to hang onto leads at Challenge Gran Canaria or for the million-dollar challenge final event, Challenge Bahrain.
It wasn't quite the season that Duffy enjoyed, but most would be more than thrilled with a 2017 results list like Ryf's.
The former UK national team swimmer burst onto the pro ranks this year with her second place finish at Challenge Gran Canaria, then dominated Ironman Lanzarote before putting together one of the performances of the year with a huge come-from-behind win at the Challenge Championship in Samorin. She rounded out a stellar season with a runner-up finish in Kona.