SÃO MIGUEL, Portugal – Colombia’s Orlando Duque rolled back the years with a stunning victory in São Miguel, powering past his younger rivals to land on top of the podium for the first time since 2013.
Steven LoBue of the USA and England’s Gary Hunt finished behind the sport’s legend in second and third respectively at Cliff Diving World Series 2017’s second stop in Portugal.
Under the blazing sun at the Portuguese archipelago it was the most experienced athlete in the field to seize his first victory in 27 competitions at the age of 42. After no podium finish in 2016, Duque came 0.7pts close to the podium in Ireland and here he pulled off four consistent dives and hit the day’s high score of 346.50pts.
“It’s been a difficult last few seasons. Last year I was injured, I wasn’t on the podium at any of the stops; that’s tough when you want to do a little bit better. This year started okay, I was pretty close in Ireland but then here since the first two rounds I thought there is a chance,” said Orlando Duque. “I know I can do my dives, they are working okay, so there is a chance,” he added.
“During a competition anything can happen. Gary went from last to third, so I knew I could go from first to last too. You have to bring everything in the competition and make sure that it works out in the end, so I’m happy I could do four good dives and win here.”
The overall winner from 2009 edged out Florida-based LoBue and record winner Hunt, who suffered major struggles on the volcanic rocks in the mid-Atlantic when his first two dives landed him in last position in the standings.
With a strong comeback from the 27m platform, the ‘brilliant Brit’ stays ahead in the overall standings after two of six competitions. After his ninth win in as many years in the World Series Duque sits now only 20 points behind; England’s Blake Aldridge is currently 3rd.
Lifting off from natural surface it was Mexico’s Adriana Jimenez who fired herself to a first ever win in the women’s with a spectacular final dive that left her comfortably ahead of Australia’s Helena Merten in second and German Anna Bader in third.
Jimenez came back strong from the 21m-platform after she had to pull out during the season opener in Ireland. The FINA high diving world cup winner proved her skills from the rocks as well as the platform to take her first win in 15 competitions in front of 1000 spectators on the water.
“I can´t believe it, I’m so, so happy. It’s a big surprise for me. I have to thank Angie, the physiotherapist, because she helps me all the time with my injury. After Ireland, which was not a good competition for me, it was so hard to recover my mind after the little hit, after the hospital,” said Adriana Jimenez.
“I was lost in one dive, so it was hard for me to comeback in a good shape. I’m so happy and I’m proud of myself because I did it,” the Mexican added.
Helena Merten from Australia grabbed the second spot on the podium thanks to a truly spectacular offthe-cliff performance which saw her lead until the final dive. The experienced Anna Bader from Germany rounded out the top three with another solid performance, in the first event after her baby break.
In the Women’s World Series overall standings, 25-year-old Rhiannan Iffland still leads despite a moderate 5th place in Portugal nursing injury, followed by today’s fourth placed Ginger Huber (USA) and by debut winner Jimenez.
After 22 athletes displayed some dazzling form from the bare rocks in the season’s only off-the-cliff competition as well as the platforms on the volcanic archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic they move on to the sport’s European home in Polignano a Mare, Italy, for the next stop in two weeks’ time.
The phenomenal rocks of Portugal’s Azores islands are a true World Series classic, as this unique volcanic archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean serves as the take-off point for awe-inducing cliff dives for the sixth consecutive time.
Back to the roots is the motto from São Miguel – volcanic stone in the shape of a ‘snakehead’ and the outside crater walls of the almost perfectly round islet are the ideal spots for the athletes to explore this pure sport, spreading their wings diving straight from the cliffs like the pioneers did in Hawaii almost 250 years ago. Only for the more difficult optional dives will the athletes use the platform construction placed above the ocean.
Stop #2, Azores, POR
1- Orlando Duque (COL) – 346.50pts
2- Steven LoBue (USA) – 342.45
3- Gary Hunt (GBR) – 330.40
4- Jonathan Paredes (MEX) – 327.35
5- Kyle Mitrione (W) (USA) – 323.50
6- Kris Kolanus (POL) – 316.95
7- Blake Aldridge (GBR) – 298.15
8- Sergio Guzman (MEX) – 293.80
9- Andy Jones (USA) – 213.70
10- David Colturi (USA) – 207.80
1- Adriana Jimenez (MEX) – 303.50pts
2- Helena Merten (AUS) – 284.70
3- Anna Bader (W) (GER) – 281.90
4- Ginger Huber (USA) – 279.40
5- Rhiannan Iffland (AUS) – 262.80
6- Jessica Macaulay (W) (GBR) – 258.30
7- Cesilie Carlton (USA) – 256.50
8- Tara Hyer-Tira (W) (USA) – 243.10
Standings (after 2 of 6 stops)
1- Gary Hunt (GBR) – 330pts
2- Orlando Duque (COL) – 310
3- Blake Aldridge (GBR) – 220
4- Steven LoBue (USA) – 190
5- Jonathan Paredes (MEX) – 180
1- Rhiannan Iffland (AUS) – 290pts
2- Ginger Huber (USA) – 270
3- Adriana Jimenez (MEX) – 250
4- Helena Merten (AUS) – 230
5- Yana Nestsiarava (W) (BLR) – 160
5- Tara Hyer-Tira (W) (USA) – 160
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 2017 the sport’s best athletes will once again leap, twist and somersault from up to 27m with no protection, except their concentration, skill and physical control during six competitions around the world.
Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series 2017 Stops
June 24th – Inis Mór (IRL)
July 9th – Sao Miguel, Azores (POR)
July 23rd – Polignano a Mare (ITA)
September 3rd – Texas (USA)
September 16th – Mostar (BIH)
October 21st – Lago Ranco (CHI)