Bermudians old and young, black and white, rich and poor gathered together this afternoon to welcome the island’s first-ever Olympic gold medalist, Flora Duffy, back home.
Ms. Duffy’s triathlon triumph in Tokyo made Bermuda the smallest country to ever claim an Olympic gold medal. In addition to that, she holds the record for the largest winning margin in both Olympic and sprint distance racing events and was even awarded an Order of the British Empire (O.B.E) for her contributions to sports in Bermuda.
A motorcade picked her up as soon as she got off the plane and escorted her throughout the island to her alma mater Warwick Academy and then headed to the Cabinet House for an official presentation by the Honorable Premier David Burt and Minister of Youth, Culture and Sports the Honorable Dr. Ernest Peets.
While en route to the Cabinet, Ms. Duffy received countless gifts from fans who were cheering her on from the sidewalks, including a cup of rum swizzle from the legendary Swizzle Inn in Hamilton Parish.
“ We in Bermuda have been anxiously awaiting to welcome you back home and to celebrate your monumental achievement of winning a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics,” Premier Burt said upon Ms. Duffy’s arrival on Cabinet grounds. “ You gave us lasting memories and filled us with an unforgettable sense of pride as you took on some of the world’s greatest athletes, from countries much larger than our own, and prevailed against all odds.”
“ Your Olympic achievements and your awe-inspiring career have propelled Bermuda onto the international sporting stage and for that, we are eternally grateful,” he continued. “ I believe that I speak for every Bermudian, whether they live here or around the world, we cannot help but admire your dedication, fearlessness and strength of heart. You are a true champion; you are our champion.”
During his address, Minister Peets called Ms. Duffy’s Olympic victory nothing shy of extraordinary.
“ Against the backdrop of all the challenges that we have been facing as a country, you have given us tremendous joy and immense pride and we salute your resilience and your amazing achievement,” he said. “ Not only have you inspired an entire country, but you have proven what is possible. You are a true example of what can be accomplished through determination, commitment and dedication.”
Minister Peets ended his speech by hoping that Ms. Duffy enjoys everything that this welcome home has to offer her and to take it all in, because she truly deserves every bit of it.
Before going up to City Hall for another ceremony, Premier Burt and Minister Peets, on behalf of the Government of Bermuda, presented Ms. Duffy with a $25,000 check.
Waiting for her at the steps of City Hall was Governor of Bermuda Her Excellency Rena Lalgie, Mayor of Hamilton the Right Worshipful Charles Gosling, Corporation of Hamilton Chief Operating Officer and Secretary Dwayne Caines and Hamilton town crier Ed Christopher, who opened the presentation.
“ Flora Duffy continues to be an inspiration to our entire community. Therefore, on this date, the city of Hamilton proclaims that she be given the key to the city,” Mr. Christopher said.
“ Former Premier Paula Cox once said that as a country, Bermuda punches well above its weight. Ms. Duffy has certainly proven that correct and given us something to be proud of,” Mayor Gosling said.
“ The whole island celebrated your victory in July, we still celebrate it today, and we will make the rest of the world celebrate it with us; well done . . . you have truly inspired a generation of young athletes and are a role model to us all.”
“ Today, Bermuda rises to the highest stature to honor you for setting the standard for excellence,” Mr. Caines added. “ Teachers, coaches and parents now can say to their children ‘do your best, give your all and the result could be gold, like Bermuda’s golden girl.’”
Slightly overwhelmed by all of the days’ events, Ms. Duffy expressed her immense pride in her country on City Hall’s steps and sincerely thanked everyone for their enormous support.
“ This has been a truly incredible day. I did not get to celebrate [my victory] while I was in Tokyo due to the Coronavirus, so thank you to everyone who has played a role in organizing these celebrations,” she said. “ I am so grateful that I get to celebrate this gold medal in Bermuda.”
She added that, after competing in the Iron Kids triathlon when she was eight years old, she knew that was what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. In fact, she planned to go for a run when she returned to her home, if she could spare 30 minutes.
Story by Stefano Ausenda
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