The wait is nearly over. On Tuesday 27 July, 6.30 am local time, 55 women will dive into Odaiba Bay, each having navigated their own unique path to reaching the Tokyo 2020 Olympic start line over the past five years. Among them are experienced favorites, talented Games debutants, and compelling stories of battling the odds to achieve their dreams. Now, all that is left is to string together the best swim-bike-run of their lives in a bid to achieve the result they crave.
The Tokyo 2020 course poses some sizeable challenges. The water temperature is likely to be in the high 20Cs for the two-lap, 1.5km swim. The humidity could be pushing 100% as they head out onto a flat, technical 40km bike with 8 laps in total, where the wind could whip through the high rises without warning. The air temperature is likely to be hovering around 30C as they rack their bikes and head out onto the 10km run.
Throw in all the pressures of an Olympic competition delayed by 12 months and one of the most competitive women’s fields in the sport’s 21-year Games history and the unpredictability, as well as the entertainment, will be off the charts. With just five races making up the Olympic Qualification Period leading into Tokyo, where does Bermuda’s pre-race favorites sit in terms of readiness to meet the challenge?
Even with just a single World Triathlon race so far in 2021, Flora Duffy will undoubtedly be one to watch. Finishing out of the medals in 8th at Rio 2016, the same year she won the first of her two world titles, will be all the motivation she needs to deliver this time around. Duffy has already said that Paris 2024 is not in her plans and Tokyo 2020 will be a final shot at that elusive Olympic Gold. After coming through a grueling WTCS Leeds in 4th place and knowing how well she can perform in the heat, her confidence, like her ability to deliver across all three segments and finish strongly, will be sky-high.