The Brit performs world’s hardest dive to take third win in a row in French Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series stop on July 23
With today’s victory in front of an enthusiastic 70,000 fans the 32-year-old completed a remarkable comeback at the fourth stop of the 2016 World Series in the historic setting of La Rochelle, France. Trailing in 12th position after two rounds, the Brit turned things around in his adopted home with an almost flawless display of diving from the 27m-platform in the final rounds, including the hardest dive in the world. American Andy Jones made it two 2nd place finishes on the bounce with another consistent performance in the Series’ birthplace. Michal Navratil (CZE), third at the first event of the season in Texas, completed the podium once again at the spot where he finished runner-up back in 2011. Going into a five weeks’ summer break, the overall standings still feature Jonathan Paredes in 2nd place behind Hunt, although the Mexican missed out on a top-three finish for the first time this season.
“It’s a worthy gamble I’m willing to play”, Gary Hunt said in the days ahead of the competition from the daunting Saint Nicolas Tower in the Bay of Biscay. It was only the second time he showed the world’s most difficult dive – a front 3 somersaults with 4 ½ twists free – in competition in front of 70,000 spectators. He mastered it for 9s from the judges, with 10 being the highest possible score, and propelled himself from 12th place after two dives to his third consecutive win.
While the 5-time overall winner is more or less a usual suspect on the podium – with 28 wins in 54 stops – Czech’s Michal Navratil and California-based Andy Jones are rather the surprise improvers of the season. Both have now two podiums in four competitions to their names and are hard on the Brit’s heels.
After three podiums in three competitions, Mexico’s Jonathan Paredes could not live up to his nickname ‘ripping machine’ in this World Series classic and finished only 6th. The 26-year-old still sits in second place overall, but the British champion goes into the 5-weeks’ break with a comfortable lead. In third position after today’s 2nd place is Andy Jones. The American has never been better placed in the overall standings during his 5 years in the World Series.
From the historic setting in La Rochelle, the World Series travels to Italy’s Polignano a Mare, where the 5th stop will host the male and female cliff diving elite on August 28.
Quotes from the Winners Gary Hunt, GBR
It´s amazing. Not so much the three wins in a row, just winning here. I’ve been living here for six years and all the people I’ve been training with over the last few years came to watch. And after that shaky start, I can’t believe. The front triple with 4 1/2 twist is a dive I’ve been working on for 2 and a ½ years now. I’ve brainstormed with my friend in Southampton and we came up with the idea and since then I’ve been working on that. I tried it once in Texas. It didn´t go very well and today is the day it went well.
Michael Navratil, CZE
I’m so happy because the competition was very tough, everybody hit their dives in the last round and it was partly due to my experience and also just being calm and just enjoying the competition.
Andy Jones, USA
I feel awesome, I’m super excited, a really good day. I don´t know, sometimes the water is really flat and I hit one. I just find a groove when I really see the water well and I just keep going. So that’s what I felt today. On every dive I had a lot of confidence and saw the water really well and was able to pull them all down.