Dame Flora Duffy had a Q&A with Liz Barrett from 220triathlon.com to discuss her incredible 2021 and her future plans.
220: Well, first of all, huge congratulations. What a year. Looking back on 2021, is there anything you wish had gone differently? Or was it really the perfect season?
Flora Duffy: Well, jeez, it feels like just such a blur, that whole year. But itís funny. My husband [former Xterra pro Dan Hugo] says there was multiple times he thought I was right on the knifeís edge of doing a bit too much. But somehow I managed to just stay right in that place of extreme fitness without going over.
If I had to change one thingÖ I hurt my back in April, as I flew from South Africa over to Boulder. It lingered for about eight weeks, which at that point was really very stressful because that was very close to the Olympics. So it would have been nice not to have had that stress. But I canít really complain.
220: You mentioned being on the knifeís edge. The elite racing schedule is now so jam-packed, with the average season finishing a lot than it used to. How do you avoid that burnout?
FD: Oh my gosh, itís really hard. You have the World Triathlon schedule, then youíve got Super League thrown in there now. And then for me, Iím interested in racing 70.3. So you add in trying to do one or two of those and itís quite a lot to manage.
So for me, last year, the Olympics was my big goal and I ticked that off. And then I kind of was like, right, well, what do I want to do for the rest of the year? And what I didnít realize was that the Olympics was absolutely going to kill me.
There was a lot of pressure and expectation on my shoulders for quite a few years going into it. And then I won, and then thereís this media frenzy, managing so many different things, but also trying to come to terms with what just happened.
220: Whatís it like coming off an Olympic year straight into a Commonwealth one?
FD: Itís kind of ridiculous. Itís almost exactly a year from when we raced in Tokyo to racing in Birmingham. But to me, now that Iíve gone through an Olympic cycle as one of the favourites, nothing will ever feel like that again.
I think whatís nice is that Iíve [already] won the Commonwealth Games [in 2018]. So in a way, Iíve ticked that box, so Iím in a really nice space where Iím racing because I want to and I really enjoy it.
And so that definitely helps take the pressure off. I mean, of course Iím still a competitive person, so Iím going to try and win a medal.
But the craziest thing is people keep telling me how many days it is to the Paris 2024 Olympics. Please stop! Iím still trying to celebrate this Olympic Medal from Tokyo.
220: So my next question was obviously going to be about ParisÖ do you think youíve got another Olympic cycle in you?
FD: Ha! Itís interesting. For Tokyo, in those final, like six weeks, I said, Iím never doing this again. Like this is too much stress for me to handle. Then you fast forward after the Olympics, and maybe I could do it.
It is only three years away. The doorís definitely open. Iím just going to take it year by year.
But I definitely have some aspirations for the 70.3 distance this year. Ironman doesnít interest me at all at the moment. But with my racing style, 70.3 and the World Triathlon racing could work quite nicely. My main focus is on the WTCS and Commonwealths, but Iíd like to qualify for the 70.3 Worlds at the end of October in St. George.
Iím looking at the calendar now, and itís actually really difficult to fit a qualification race in by the cut-off, given my world triathlon schedule. But itís still a goal, and something that excites me. Itís important for me to do that stuff right now, just because itís different, gets me out of my comfort zone, learning new skills.