Cliff Diving season opener
Mon, 25 Jun 2012 5:08a.m.
Nine-times world champion Orlando Duque of Colombia won the opening round of the 2012 Cliff Diving World Series in Bonifacio, Corsica.
More than 1,200 people on boats turned out to watch the spectacular feats of the competitors as they dived from the 27-metre platform on the remnants of the Saint Francois canon base overlooking the Strait of Bonifacio.
Under blue skies and with a moderate breeze and slightly choppy waves, the conditions were set for the first of seven meets for the world's cliff diving elite on the southern tip of the Mediterranean island.
The format for this year's series has been modified from 2011. In rounds 2 and 3, the 14 divers battle head-to-head for the seven places in the finals, joined by the 'lucky loser'.
Gary Hunt, the reigning World Series champion, was the lucky loser, but the Briton missed the podium by 3.5 points in the final and had to settle for fourth place.
Czech diver Michal Navratil put in a fine performance with a front triple somersault with 1 1/2 twists to give him third place.
United States' Steven LoBue took his first ever second place, scoring a total of 455 points. The 27-year-old, who had to go through the qualification event in January to gain his tour ticket, was placed second before the final round. He maintained his position thanks to a well executed front quadruple somersault with a 1/2 twist dive.
Duque, who returned to the tour after sustaining an injury in April 2011, started his first world series competition in nine months strongly and led after all four rounds. Solid scores between 7.5 and 9 from the five judges for all his dives secured the victory with a total of 462 points.
"I mean, "I’m really happy. You know, when I started competing, I wanted to make a comeback at least to the same level I was at last year. Even though I want to win, I wasn´t expecting it. I know the level keeps going up, conditions were really tricky and I was able to handle all that but you know, I’m just really, really happy. I put a lot of time into preparing myself and it looks like the results are just coming back," says Duque after his win.
The next stop of the Cliff Diving World Series will be in Grimstad, on July 6 in Norway, where the competitors will dive into the Skagerrak Strait.
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