It was Englishman Gary Hunt who left his personal mark on Greek soil by winning the third stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series 2011 in Athens on Sunday afternoon. Lake Vouliagmeni was the venue where the 26-year-old took his first season victory and repeated his win in the 2009 final.
With a whiff of the Olympic spirit omnipresent, Czech Michal Navratil made the extra step to the podium and finished third in front of more than 9,000 enthusiastic spectators and Artem Silchenko completed the top spots in position two. The midway stop of the 2011 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series will take place in La Rochelle, France, on June 18, 2011.
The first round of competition on Saturday was definitely not his best: after the first required dive, the Southampton-born diver was only joint tenth with Mexican Jorge Ferzuli. True to the slogan ‘another day, another dive’ Gary Hunt played it safe with his tried and trusted dives for the remaining rounds. His third dive earned a ten from the judges for the highest score in the whole competition. “Yesterday I found it quite difficult to get into the competition vibe.
But today there was a great atmosphere and straight from the first dive I felt good and started diving well. If you do a bad dive, you have to put it out of your head, otherwise it will influence your other dives. And when you see people crash as it happened to Hassan Mouti yesterday, it does scare you, but you have to try and block that out. I just forgot about yesterday and took today as a separate competition and took each dive in turn. I just haven’t found those two easy dives that I’m consistent with but I will keep searching,“ said a relieved Gary Hunt.
As anticipated in the days ahead of this third stop, the competition stirred up the rankings and saw a new face on the podium. Michal Navratil (CZE) continued his recent improvement and took the 3rd position after two 5th places this season. Russia’s Artem Silchenko finished in a solid second place and moves up to rank four in the overall standings.
With his first victory in the 2011 edition of the World Series Hunt also takes the overall lead with 49 points, ahead of Orlando Duque (40 pts), who had to withdraw from the Series due to injury, and Ukraine’s Slava Polyeshchuk (33 pts). The fight for the top six spots is tight as never before this season: positions four to six are divided by just three points.
Frenchman Hassan Mouti was forced to watch the competition after suffering an injury in training following the completion of the first round of diving on Saturday. He was training an ambitious new dive – a front quint somersault with a half twist tuck – but lost his orientation in the somersault and suffered a hard landing on the water. The 30-year-old, who received immediate assistance from the team of scuba divers present at every dive, was transferred to hospital for further checks and was diagnosed with a minor lung rupture.
Following the kick-off in the remoteness of Chile’s Easter Island and the lush green competition in Yucatán, Mexico, the cradle of modern competitive sports welcomed the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series once again in 2011. The amazing location around the lake whose water maintains a constant 24°C all year round had previously hosted the grand final in its first season in 2009. The venue for the first stop on European soil draw more than 9.000 spectators to the lakeside of the so-called ‘Sunken Lake’ and was screened live on TV.
The midway stop of the 2011 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series will take place where it kicked off in the past: the fourth stop will again draw thousands of spectators to La Rochelle’s old port on June 18, 2011.
For more information visit www.redbullcliffdiving.com.