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Three new locations to stage Cliff Diving World Series

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New Delhi: Cliff diving enthusiasts will be pleased to know that the World Series, which kicks off on April 13, has added three brand new locations for the 2019 season. The Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series will have seven stops across the globe for the
men and women of 18 different nationalities.

The tournament will witness an Olympic medallist in the permanent line-up along with past champions Rhiannan Iffland of Australia and Great Britain’s Gary Hunt. Soaring from heights of up to 27m at speeds in excess of 85km/h, with no protection except their concentration, skill and physical control, the athletes’ quest for the glorious King Kahekili Trophy guarantees to become a thriller during the World Series’ 11th season.

New to the tour this year is El Nido on the Phillipines’ Palawan Island, Ireland’s capital Dublin and one of the oldest cities in the world, Beirut in Lebanon. Mixing it up with World Series fan favourites like Italy, Portugal, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the ever-evolving sport will hit pure to traditionally rich and visually extraordinary venues before celebrating the final showdown at the iconic Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in September.

The title fight from almost three time the Olympic heights starts amidst pristine geologic
formations, turtles and hundreds of species of corals and fish, in an off-the-cliff competition into emerald waters off the coast of El Nido on the Philippines.

From the warmest and remotest to the most urban stop of the year, the second competition takes the cliff diving elite to another debut in Ireland, where they will launch from the platforms in Dublin’s Grand Canal Dock for the first time. June is the month of World Series classics as the athletes return to the venue where houses rise from the rocks and 70,000 passionate fans await in Polignano a Mare in the very south of Italy.

Traveling on to the phenomenal rocks of Portugal’s Azores island of São Miguel, the athletes will dive straight from the volcanic cliffs for the eighth consecutive time. July takes the world-class athletes to new grounds in the Middle East off the coast of Beirut’s
neighbourhood of Raouché, Lebanon. Despite being in the country’s largest city, the divers will launch from the pure cliff face off the ‘Pigeon Rocks’ going into the second half of the season.

The penultimate stop awaits the athletes with the chilly waters below Stari Most, the old bridge of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where diving from great heights has been a tradition for centuries.

A final as well as a premiere! When the platforms on top of Bilbao’s La Salve Bridge turn into the take-off strips for the year’s final aesthetic freefalls to define the winners of the Championship, it will be the first time the women display their graceful art next to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

Adventure Sports

Winning start for reigning cliff diving champions

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Rhiannan Iffland of Australia claimed the women's title with a commanding 329 points at the season-opening El Nido leg of the Cliff Diving World Series in the Philippines. Photos: Red Bull

El Nido, Philippines: After winning the final four stops last year, seven-time champion Gary Hunt began this season where he left off—the brilliant Brit is unbeaten in five competitions across seasons. In El Nido’s beautiful lagoons, Romania’s Constantin Popovici edged the leader after three rounds, Jonathan Paredes from Mexico, out of second place in his first competition as a permanent diver from 27 metres. No surprises for the women in the season opener. Three-time champion Rhiannan Iffland got off to a flyer in this unspoilt location off the Philippines’ Palawan Island. Yana Nestsiarava from Belarus equalled her best-ever finish in second place, with Canada’s Lysanne Richard completing the podium.

With a pair of 10s for Paredes’ first dive of the season, the Mexican launched immaculately from the rocky off-the-cliffs spots above emerald green lagoon waters, taking the lead into round four. However, it was in this final round when Popovici’s impressive armstand dive earned the Romanian the high score of the day and his first-ever World Series podium, just 1.35 points ahead of Mexico’s style master. It was record winner Hunt, though, who nailed his final dive to stay unbeaten with his dive list for a fifth time.

“I knew it was going to be a tough competition. Constantin pushed me right until the edge and that’s been like that for a couple of competitions now. I know it’s not going to be easy, but that’s one. I want to be diving against the best people in the world and here is where I can do that. I don’t want to be just on my own. It’s much more fun when it’s a fight,” Hunt said later.

“A wonderful location. When you think of cliff diving you think of a place like this. We found some really great places and what better way than come away with a win,” he added.

Mexican Adriana Jimenez dives from the 21-metre platform on Miniloc Island during the final competition of the Cliff Diving World Series in Palawan, Philippines.

Iffland, the sport’s most decorated female athlete, surprised herself by winning for the 12th time in 18 events. Sitting in third after two rounds from the rocky launchpads in the Small Lagoon, the 27-year-old showed no nerves with the best dive in the final round to keep her contenders in check and continue her winning form from 21 metres. Under the scorching Philippines sun, it was Belarusian Nestsiarava, the surprise leader before making the way over to the platforms for the more complex dives, who came closest to the Australian. Canada’s Richard, at 37 the most experienced permanent diver in the women’s, secured 3rd place to make it 10 career podiums.

“Super happy and a bit surprised as well. I was standing up there and thought the win is a bit out of my reach, but I do like that extra bit of pressure. It definitely helps me when I’m out on the platform. It helps me to stay calm and collected and enjoy what I do. Super stoked and kind of out of words,” a jubilant Iffland said.

“It’s a good start, but the rest of the season I’d like to be just as consistent. I did four consistent dives here in the Philippines. I’d like to carry that on for the rest of the season and I’ll be happy if I can do so. Some say it’s not easy, but I actually really enjoy diving off the cliffs; I love being out in nature and I love the extra adrenaline you get standing up on the cliffs,” the Aussie added.

In this, the remotest of locations, the divers were tasked with kayaking, rock-climbing and traversing ladders before they even reached their take-off positions. Once on their platform the phenomenal views across the lagoons were certainly worth the effort.

Untouched limestone formations, natural colours, coral and fish were the stunning scenery as the world’s best cliff divers kicked off the new season in paradise with a display of diving grace. From here they move on to chillier waters in Dublin, Ireland for the second new stop on the calendar in a month’s time.

Top-5 Results
Stop #1, El Nido, Philippines

MEN
1. Gary Hunt GBR – 427.25 pts.
2. Constantin Popovici ROU – 409.40
3. Jonathan Paredes MEX – 408.05
4. Kris Kolanus POL – 380.10
5. Steven LoBue USA – 365.60

WOMEN
1. Rhiannan Iffland AUS – 329.25 pts.
2. Yana Nestsiarava BLR– 319.35
3. Lysanne Richard CAN – 309.70
4. Jessica Macaulay GBR – 304.55
5. Adriana Jimenez MEX – 292.55

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