Hunt takes title as Guzman grabs first win in Japan

Drama was high 28m above the cliffs of Sandanbeki as the unstoppable Gary Hunt wrapped up his record sixth title with a third-place finish, while Sergio Guzman from Mexico City celebrated a first ever victory. America’s Steven LoBue finished runner-up, taking his second podium of the season. In the women’s competition, wildcard Rhiannan Iffland landed what could turn out to be a crucial blow in her title fight with Canada’s Lysanne Richard, who finished third behind the Australian rookie and America’s Ginger Huber in second, as 4,600 fans watched on excitedly from the cliff top. After the World Series’ debut in the land of the Rising Sun, Iffland maintains her lead over Richard heading into the season finale, where the women’s champion will finally be decided.

With today’s result in the men’s, the athlete from England prolonged his reign over the cliff diving elite for another year. All he needed at today’s second-to-last competition was to stay ahead of his closest contender in the overall standings. As Paredes, the rising star from Mexico, could not meet his own expectations and only finished on a disappointing 7th place, the day’s third highest score was enough for 32-year-old Hunt to wrap up the title.

Victory in the all-natural setting of Shirahama went to the youngest in the permanent athletes’ line-up, 25-year-old Guzman. After a slow start into his first full season the Mexican has gradually worked up his way in the standings to surprise cliff diving’s best by adding his name to the elite list of competition winners. As the 10th athlete in 58 events, he achieved the day’s high score from the judges, amongst them Greg Louganis, the greatest Olympic diver of all times.

With his second place Florida-based LoBue moved up in the overall standings and holds fifth place, which means automatic qualification for the 2017 season. Behind him, Colombian legend Orlando Duque and today’s winner Guzman still have chances to snatch this spot from the American.

In the women’s competition, the decision for the title will be prolonged to Dubai after Australian Iffland made it four out of six wins from the 21.5m platform above the Pacific Ocean and set an all-time high score in the women’s competition. On third place in Japan, Canada’s two-time winner Richard stays on Iffland’s heels to ensure a highly anticipated grand season finale in the World Series’ first ever night event, when the King Kahekili Trophy for the overall winners will be awarded in Dubai, UAE on October 28.

Quotes from the Winners

Sergio Guzman, MEX
Fantastic. It’s the first time I won a competition. Coming here, I did not have a plan just wanted to enjoy the competition. Now I feel super happy because my plan is complete. You never know what happens in this competition. When I watched Steven, I cheered for him – you can do it. I felt a lot of stress. I’m super, super happy. This win is for my family, my daughter, my mum, my coach – because they give my all the time a lot of support. I feel extremely happy. I love Japan.

Rhiannan Iffland, AUS
I just came here and wanted do to well. My goal was to come and put in three good dives and the main thing is to having a good time and I did that. I’m walking away as a very, very happy girl. There are not really any secrets to keep the nerves. Just take in the atmosphere and look around and just ensure to relax. And I mean when you step out to the platform, you have no choice than calming down because once you get there you don’t want to be nervous.

Results MEN
1-Sergio Guzman (MEX) – 471.00pts.
2-Steven LoBue (USA) – 463.60
3-Gary Hunt (GBR) – 453.20
4-Blake Aldridge (GBR) – 450.00
5-Orlando Duque (COL) – 444.10
6-Michal Navratil (CZE) – 443.75
7-Jonathan Paredes (MEX) – 439.25
8-Andy Jones (USA) – 434.90
9-Artem Silchenko (RUS) – 303.05
10-Alain Kohl (W) (LUX) – 293.70
11-Kris Kolanus (W) (POL) – 290.65
12-Christian Arayon (W) (COL) – 290.05
13-Alessandro De Rose (W) (ITA) – 250.40
14-Viktar Maslouski (W) (BLR) – 79.55

Results WOMEN
1-Rhiannan Iffland (W) (AUS) – 254.60 pts
2-Ginger Huber (USA) – 244.55
3-Lysanne Richard (CAN) – 244.30
4-Adriana Jimenez (MEX) – 224.10
5-Cesilie Carlton (USA) – 222.55
6-Helena Merten (AUS) – 208.45
7-Tara Hyer-Tira (W) (USA) – 187.20

Standings MEN (after 8 of 9 stops)
1-Gary Hunt, GBR – 1190pts.
2-Jonathan Paredes, MEX – 900
3-Michal Navratil, CZE – 830
4-Andy Jones, USA – 710
5-Steven LoBue, USA – 690
6-Orlando Duque, COL – 570
7-Sergio Guzman, MEX – 548
8-David Colturi, USA – 500
9-Artem Silchenko, RUS – 458
10-Blake Aldridge, GBR – 438

Standings WOMEN (after 6 of 7 stops)
1-Rhiannan Iffland (W), AUS – 11190pts.
2-Lysanne Richard, CAN – 940
3-Cesilie Carlton, USA – 670
4-Ginger Huber, USA – 570
5-Helena Merten, AUS – 550
6-Adriana Jimenez, MEX – 540
7-Rachelle Simpson, USA – 420
8-Yana Nestsiarava (W), BLR – 180
9- Tara Hyer-Tira (W), USA – 150
10-Jaki Valente (W), BRA – 90
11-Iris Schmidbauer (W), GER – 50

Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series
Since 2009, the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series has provided a platform for exhilarating action and dives of ever-growing complexity. The series features elite athletes as well as young up-and-coming talent and a Women’s World Series was introduced in 2014. In 2016 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 nine competitions around the world.

Photos © Red Bull Media House