Triathlete Flora Duffy paid tribute to the “cold moment” after presenting the first Olympic gold medal in history for the small island of Bermuda in Tokyo on Tuesday.
In the women’s race, the 33-year-old won the bronze medal in 1 week 55 minutes and 36 seconds, just one minute ahead of British Georgia’s Taylor Brown.
Duffy’s success makes Bermuda the smallest nation or region in terms of population – about 70,000 – that has ever won a gold medal at the Summer Games.
“I have achieved my dream of winning a gold medal, but also to win Bermuda’s first gold medal,” he said.
“It’s bigger than me and it’s a really cool moment. It was the longest kilometer of my life (last run match).
“I think I can get in the habit of being called an Olympic champion all my life.”
Bermuda’s only previous Olympic medalist was boxer Clarence Hill, who won a bronze medal in 1976.
Duffy’s 2013 was a welcome reward after being diagnosed with a series of injuries and anemia in 2013.
He quit the sport after failing to finish the event at the 2008 Beijing Games and began working in a shop before graduating and studying before returning to the sport.
In a race 15 minutes late due to slippery conditions following an overnight downpour in the Japanese capital, Duffy regained control of the last running section.
After the first of the four laps, he had a lead of about a minute and has never been in danger since.
Tears welled up in his eyes as he realized what he had achieved as he crossed the line.
“I just tried to keep my balance and not let my mind go to the fact that this is really happening for the last kilometer of the race,” Duffy said.
“I saw my husband, he’s my coach, by the side of the road, and just gave him a little smile.
“From there I allowed all sorts of emotions to come but I don’t really think it will kill me in a few days from now.”
In the cycling section of Taylor-Brown Racing, Flat Rear Tire suffered a major setback, leaving 22 seconds behind the checkpoint in the rear section but quickly overcame the lost field.
“I was riding a motorcycle with 1 km, 1.5 km. I just heard ‘tzzzssss’ and I thought, ‘terrific’,” said the 27-year-old.
“I didn’t decide to stop and change my wheel. I just tried to see what could happen because I had already lost my time, but in just 15 seconds it wasn’t all bad.
“Then I just went really fast in the third lap of the run. I got hurt after that but suffered the consequences.”
It was an emotional moment for Zafirs, whose father, Bill, died in April.
After agreeing to compete with him in the Father’s Day Triathlon in 2007, he was responsible for participating in the sport.
“We saw a rainbow during the race and I thought, ‘Hey, Dad,'” he said. “I mean, it’s all for me.” I know I didn’t win, but it feels like it. “