It was a sensational weekend. The 9,000 spectators couldn’t have wished for a better performance. Former world champion, Hawaiian Orlando Duque was amongst the spectators. Hassan Mouti had to join him after being injured when diving on Saturday.
Although 26-year old Gary Hunt says, “I feel scared every time I go up, but it’s such a great feeling jumping off, being in the air, feeling free and in control of your body,” he succeeds in pulling off some spectacular dives.
Red Bull Cliff Diving in Athens had purpose-built a 26 metre platform for the show. It takes about 2.34 seconds from that height to hit the water. In those split seconds the elite divers pull off the most amazing feats.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for Hunt though. This was a keenly fought battle between some of the world’s best cliff divers and first place changed continuously throughout the two days. Alain Kohl was leading at the end of the first round on Saturday and American Kent de Mond was leading after the second on Sunday before he was forced to retire hurt in the third, whilst Hunt had a disappointing first round made up for in the three subsequent rounds on Sunday when he dived with perfection.
The Englishman, who doesn’t specialise in the simple, had a combination of somersaults and twists that gave him the edge ahead of Czech, Michal Navratil and Russian, Artem Silchenko, who preceded him in the final round. “It’s great, I’m speechless. I’m over the moon,” he said on winning the competition. He will definitely be the man to beat this year…
Silchenko was runner-up to Hunt, and Navratil came third, claiming his first podium finish since 2009.
With his first victory in the 2011 edition of the World Series Hunt takes the overall lead with 49 points, ahead of Orlando Duque , 40 pts, and Ukraine’s Slava Polyeshchuk with 33 pts. Artem Silchenko will have a hard time now catching up as he lost his 4th place position with his no-show in Yucatan.
The competition will enter the midway state at La Rochelle, France, on 18th June. Mouti should be back too…