Premier David Burt made a presentation during the sitting of the House of Assembly regarding Flora Duffy Day.
Premier Burt said, “Honourable House. “To every cloud, there is a silver lining.”
Mr. Speaker, there can be no doubt that the world has lived under a cloud of fear, uncertainty, grief and anxiety since March of 2020 and the declaration of the global pandemic. “Silver linings” have been few and far between.
Mr. Speaker, in the midst of all that we have endured, Bermuda was afforded more than a “silver lining” but one of gold. In the early evening of July 26th the people of Bermuda joined the whole world and watched in amazement as a young woman born in Paget dominated the world stage in Tokyo. The journey from Warwick Academy to the Olympic podium is an incredible one and has now become the stuff of sporting legend.
Mr. Speaker, Flora Duffy has dominated the world of triathlon such that her name is now synonymous with the sport. Many have run out of superlatives to describe her achievements but there is unanimous agreement on their significance.
Mr. Speaker, this Honourable House is invited to today to add its own voice to the chorus of accolades by supporting the invitation to Her Excellency the Governor to make October 18th 2021 a public holiday to mark the extraordinary success of Flora Duffy in the winning of a gold medal at the 2021 Olympics.
Mr. Speaker, the record of her accomplishments is clear.
Mr. Speaker, there can be no doubt that a country that has marched into the record books on the strength of this Olympic success should appropriately celebrate the achievement with a public holiday.
Mr. Speaker, no story in Bermuda stands on its own. The nature of our history is such that inevitably there is another dimension to which we must have regard. Until July 2021, Bermuda had only one Olympic medalist. In a boxing ring in Montreal in 1976, Clarence Hill likewise brought prominence to this Island with his bronze medal.
Mr. Speaker, I was not yet born but I know the tragedy of the then Government’s failure to properly celebrate Clarence Hill’s success. Since that time successive governments have attempted to make amends for that failure. We cannot rewrite history, Mr. Speaker, but we can make the sure that its story does not end with the failure but culminates in fulfillment.
Bermuda has two Olympic medalists. One gold. One bronze. That is remarkable by any measure and any story told of Olympic success will, by definition, include reference to both. They complement each other and demonstrate to us the value of investment in sport, in true talent and the consequences when we fail so to do.
Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members will be aware that regrettably the Triathlon event which should have served as the backdrop to this proposed celebration has been postponed owing to the current outbreak of Covid-19. The reality of our current public health situation means that we may not have what we planned but we will still do what we can to celebrate.
My colleague, the Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport has outlined in “another place” the proposals for the day and I am pleased to advise this Honourable House that the Cabinet has now received recommendations for the renaming of a significant location in Bermuda which will form the focal point for the day’s observances. Mr. Speaker, I am satisfied that the chosen location will be an eminently suitable site commensurate with the international importance of the achievement.
Mr. Speaker, as I commend this measure for the consideration of the House, I do so with some pride. With the exception of yet another convincing Somerset victory just a few days after this Olympic gold, we have not had much to cheer for in the last 18 months. This achievement and our collective ability to celebrate it, provides a rare “silver lining” to the clouds that have often threatened to overwhelm us.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.