Gary Hunt, Rhiannan Iffland Remain Victorious in Portugal Leg of 2019 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series

Photo Courtesy: Dean Treml - Red Bull Content Pool

England’s Gary Hunt and Rhiannan Iffland of Australia increased their stranglehold at the top of the 2019 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series with yet another victory each in the pure Portuguese Azores. For Iffland, it was a record-breaking fourth win in a row this season, while Hunt had to be at his imperious best to see off the marauding challenge of Mexico’s Jonathan Paredes, who himself broke a long standing record by earning six 10 scorecards across the weekend. The World Series was also making a record eighth stop at the volcanic mid-Atlantic location, which awaited the cliff diving elite with demanding conditions.

Iffland, who had begun the week with a 10 in her very first dive from 21m, continued her unstoppable form despite the disruptions caused by bad weather at the fourth stop of the season. Just like three weeks ago in Polignano a Mare, the Australian dominated from start to finish, winning by an impressive 22 point margin from England’s Jessica Macaulay in second place, her first podium as a permanent diver, and Canada’s Lysanne Richard in third.

For Hunt, this was not the easy ride he had recently in Italy when winning by a massive 50 point margin. Instead, he was pushed to his limits by the sensational performance of 2017 champion Paredes, who began and ended the competition with three 10s, surpassing the Brit’s combined record of five times the highest note from the jury at a single stop.

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That Hunt held his nerve to execute a magnificent final dive of his own speaks volumes about the unshakeable 7-time champion, and although the Mexican is glad to enter the second half of the season with such a strong performance, he will be wondering just what he has to do to earn a victory ahead of his great rival. Just three points separated them at the end, with the resurgent American Andy Jones finishing third to earn his second podium in a row.

In the overall standings this trio leads the board with the Brit clearly ahead on top and Paredes and Jones tied in 2nd place. In the women’s it’s the sport’s dominant force from down under who tops the overall standings in front of today’s podium finishers Richard and Macaulay.

After an eventful final day at the ‘Princess Ring’, where athletes had to complete three dives instead of the usual two due to the weather disruptions on Friday and veterans as well as rising talent were put to the test, the cliff diving elite will next travel to a brand new location in Beirut, Lebanon. In mid July, 24 athletes will once again be tasked with diving both from the platforms and the bare rocks.

Quotes from the winners

Gary Hunt, GBR
The reason I put the triple quad at the end is because I knew I can do it under pressure. I’ve been in that situation before and I knew Jonathan would put the pressure on right till the end. So I felt comfortable with that.

You have to feed on it and do enjoy it; there is a lot you can take from experience. Somewhere like this it’s very hard to come here as a newcomer and do well. It’s so different, so unique and it’s my eighth time here, so I’m a veteran nowadays.

I’m just going to ride this wave of confidence. It’s the best thing you can bring into a competition. The best thing you can bring to a competition is confidence and last year I definitely didn’t have that from the start; I had to build it up and I’m still riding that wave now.

Rhiannan Iffland, AUS
People were asking me coming into this event about that record and telling me that I can win 4 in a row; I didn’t want to think about it until the event was done, now it’s done I can celebrate it. I didn’t want to add an extra pressure to the event. I just wanted to go in and play my game and compete as per usual and it paid off for me.
You just have to look around to realize what makes this place special. It’s really a cliff diver’s paradise; it’s the perfect spot. We have the platforms to do our hard dives and then we have awesome spots everywhere on the island to dive from the cliffs. It’s fun to come out here and play as well as compete.

I’ve won the first four now and I think now I can be a bit more relaxed, but I still have goals to achieve and things I set out at the beginning of the year that I want to achieve, so I don’t think anything is over. It’s three more events and anything can happen, so it’s going to be full ball until the last dive in the last event.

Results – Stop #4, São Miguel, Azores, POR

1- Gary Hunt GBR – 420.60pts.
2- Jonathan Paredes MEX – 417.50
3- Andy Jones USA – 375.45
4- Michal Navratil CZE – 362.45
5- Oleksiy Prygorov UKR – 365.55
6- Catalin Preda (W) ROU – 329.40
7- David Colturi USA – 317.70
8- Nikita Fedotov (W) RUS – 313.85
9- Slavik Kolesnikov (W) URK – 306.05
10- Blake Aldridge GBR – 299.75
11- Kris Kolanus POL – 272.35
12- Steven LoBue USA – 255.90
13- Manuel Halbisch (W) GER – 215.60
14- Jucelino Junior (W) BRA – 140.65

1- Rhiannan Iffland AUS – 326.80pts.
2- Jessica Macaulay GBR – 304.70
3- Lysanne Richard CAN – 298.30
4- Eleanor Townsend Smart USA – 287.95
5- Adriana Jimenez MEX – 279.65
6- Iris Schmidbauer (W) GER – 258.80
7- Jacqueline Valente (W) BRA – 250.00
8- Maria Paula Quintero (W) COL – 219.75
9- Yana Nestsiarava BLR – 216.75
10- Celia Fernandez (W) ESP – 175.10

Standings* (after 4 of 7 stops)
1- Gary Hunt GBR – 600pts.
2- Andy Jones USA – 350
2- Jonathan Paredes MEX – 350
4- Michal Navratil CZE – 280
5- Kris Kolanus POL – 220

1- Rhiannan Iffland AUS – 600pts.
2- Lysanne Richard CAN – 370
3- Jessica Macaulay GBR – 360
4- Yana Nestsiarava BLR– 330
5- Maria Paula Quintero (W) COL – 210

*With the revised format due to cold water, the Ireland results did not count towards the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series standings.

Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series

Since 2009, the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series has provided a platform for aesthetic free-falls and dives of ever growing complexity, spotlighting the sport’s finest athletes as well as the most promising talents and in 2014 it introduced a Women’s World Series. In its 11th season, the sport’s best athletes will once again leap, twist and somersault from breathtaking heights with no protection, except their concentration, skill and physical control during seven demanding competitions around the world. Between April and September, this pure extreme sport will hit waters in natural and urban environments as well as remote and iconic venues at oceans and rivers across Asia, Europe and the Middle East to crown two new champions.

Press release courtesy of Red Bull Cliff Diving. 

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