The first public event of Flora Duffy Day, a holiday completely dedicated to the island’s first-ever Olympic gold medalist, was the renaming of Corkscrew Hill to Flora Duffy Hill.
Participants in the World Triathlon race have to run and bike up Corkscrew Hill several times, so Ms. Duffy thought it was quite appropriate to have that be the hill named after her.
“ When I went up the hill during the triathlon ten times, I thought it was worth it just to win the race, but it turns out that led to this renaming and that is so cool,” she said at the renaming. “ I hope that everyone as they go down this hill, particularly the youth of Bermuda, view it as a small reminder to chase their goals. I’m just a regular Bermudian who grew up and went to school here and now I have a hill named after me.”
Following the hill renaming, Ms. Duffy, special guests and the media went up to the South Field Stadium at the National Sports Center, which today was also officially named after Ms. Duffy.
“ I am honored to be here today not just as the Premier, but also as a fellow Bermudian who cheered as loudly as everyone else as my wife and I watched Flora clench gold and break the tape in Tokyo,” Premier the Honorable David Burt said. “ No venue could be more appropriate to continue tributes to our champion and her holistic achievements than here at the heart of Bermuda’s athletics.
I hope that the renaming of this field and the events of today show the appreciation and pride we feel for all that you have achieved and the thankfulness we feel for the inspiration that you’ve given to future Bermudian athletes and the belief that they could also become an Olympic champion.”
While congratulating Ms.Duffy, Premier Burt also acknowledged the island’s first-ever Olympic medalist, boxer Clarence Hill.
“ Mr. Hill’s bronze medal in the 1976 Summer Olympics proved to the world that our small size as a country is no limitation to what we can achieve on a global stage.” he said.
To commemorate Ms. Duffy and Mr. Hill’s achievements, the Government has commissioned a statue of Ms. Duffy and a bust of Mr. Hill to be built.
In his address at the field, the Honorable Minister of Youth, Culture and Sports Dr. Ernest Peets acknowledged Ms. Duffy’s long journey from the doors of Warwick Academy to the winning podium in Tokyo.
“ We can all appreciate that you have gone through an incredible journey of hard work and dedication to reach this moment in your career,” he said. “ You have given us so many incredible moments throughout the years, moments that we will remember for a lifetime.”
Former Olympic diver and deputy chairman of the National Sports Center’s Board of Trustees Katura Horton-Perenchief, who also served as Ms. Duffy’s chef de mission at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, also acknowledged Ms. Duffy’s unprecedented victory in Tokyo.
“ Only an athlete understands the decades of dichotomy; struggle and elation, sacrifice and reward, tears and laughter,” she said. “ But Ms. Duffy showed every Bermudian that all of this; the gold, the glory, the excellence; is possible and worth it.”
According to Ms. Horton-Perenchief, when Ms. Duffy motorcaded throughout the island upon her return on October 11, which also happened to be the International Day of the Girl, she reminded everyone that representation matters.
“ [Often in sports], girls are asked to choose other career paths, told that athletics is mainly a hobby and advised that they will never be able to make a life or earn a living in sport,” she said. “ You’ve routinely proved the naysayers wrong and I thank you for that. Bermuda’s first Olympic gold champion is a woman. Representation matters . . . thank you for your spirit, dedication and unapologetically Bermudian excellence. We salute you.”
In her address to Ms. Duffy, Bermuda Olympic Association President Judy Simons , on behalf of the Association, gave her their first-ever Order of Merit medallion, “for her exemplary achievements and notorious commitment that she has demonstrated for many years, and for being a role model and inspiration to all of Bermuda.”
“ We are very proud of you, Flora, and wish you continued success as you inspire this and the following generations for years to come,” Ms. Simons said.
Ms. Duffy expressed her immense gratitude and honor for having a portion of the National Sports Center, where she herself trained for many years, named after her.
“ My greatest hope is that every young athlete who comes to this stadium is reminded that they, too, can be an Olympic champion or just to chase their goals,” she said. “ I’m honored, especially, to be a woman on the wall and to show little girls that they can do it too.”
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