The World Series has never introduced as many new faces in one sweep as during the competition in Mostar, the season's last-but-one stop. In what is already the widest-open championship in the men's and women's to date, the amount of talent pushing into the Series has never been bigger and better. They are from different parts of the world, bring a variety of experience with them and are as young as 19 years of age. Read on to learn more about these 'watch out for' personalities.
Xantheia Pennisi, 19 years, Australia
The Brisbane born and bred is the young gun in this group of new wildcards. At 19, her sportive career has already taken a few turns from gymnast to traditional diving, but it was cliff diving that sparked something in her. A show in Australia, together with Rhiannan Iffland, was the beginning of it all. From 10m to 15m and 17m in 2017 and the first 20m dive at the start of this June.
"I'm really lucky enough to be training alongside Rhiannan; she has a lot of positive support towards me and this just challenges me to learn more dives. Her mindset is really good; I want to carry it on in my career - it's the love for the sport."
Katy Etterman, 25 years, USA
For a long time, the shyly smiling tender athlete from Minnesota has admired the World Series athletes from afar, never considering the idea of becoming one herself. A performer in 'The House of Dancing Water' show in Macau, she follows a simple strategy in her first ever appearance: stay calm, stay safe, have fun, land on my feet.
After so many years of being a passive spectator, the slowly moving dream turns reality this weekend in Mostar where everything still feels a bit surreal and overwhelming for the 25-year-old getting the opportunity to join the cliff diving elite for one competition.
"I'm not so much nervous about the competitive aspect; our sport allows us to be nervous enough about what we're doing that competition is just second place to how I feel about my dives."
Celia Fernandez, 29 years, Spain
A very bubbly character, Madrid born Celia is the most senior addition to the World Series cast, but considers herself a childish character, who enjoys playing all kinds of kids' games whenever her job as an engineer allows her. The former gymnast is the first Spanish athlete to take part in the women's category and while it's her first time on the World Series' 21m platform, she's already learned that cliff diving is a sport where you feel people respect each other and want the other person to do well.
"Everybody is super supportive, giving tips, helping each other and having fun. I feel really comfortable; even it's my first time. I'm enjoying it so much."
Nathan Jimerson, 31 years, USA
The father of two has always had a strong passion for diving from great heights, once he made the switch from gymnastics to diving half his life ago. Not long after he started performing high diving and Russian swing in shows eight years ago, he had the word 'highdiver' tattooed on his neck.
Being in the environment and enjoying the moment, is what keeps the 31-year-old Macau-based acrobat calm and relaxed, despite the nerves inside. Standing on the 27m platform high above the chilly emerald water of the Neretva River in Mostar gave him goose bumps though: "First thing I noticed was the amazing view from the platform. Inside you have the nerves going and the excitement, so I was trying to control my breathing and just do what I have to do and stay comfortable with the dive."
Catalin Preda, 27 years, Romania
His reputation preceded him, so when Catalin finally earned his spot in the World Series the judges, sports director and even the most decorated athletes watched him closely. The athlete from Bucharest, who comes from a competitive diving background like his fellow Romanian wildcard Constantin Popovici, didn't disappoint.
In training he performed a dive that has never been done before, just like that. The Back Quad with 2 Twists has a Degree of Difficulty of 5.1 – less than a handful of elite World Series divers reach this complexity – and while the trained journalist left everyone in awe, he emerged from the water with a simple: "It's possible!"
Current World Series leader, Steven LoBue from the US, confessed he was thinking about doing this dive next year and now the World Series debutant Catalin will perform it in Saturday's final round from the old bridge in Mostar.
A humble and rather introvert character, his words seem wisely chosen when he talks about the fascination of cliff diving: "It's the ability of our brain and body to connect to such extent to orientate in the air, know where it is, the special awareness, the feats we're able to do from such a height and the degree of risk - all makes such a really nice result and feel and it's like floating; not so much focussing on what you have to do, but just letting yourself do it."
While this group of World Series debutants still have to prove their talent in competition, the reigning champion from Mexico, Jonathan Paredes, brimmed over with enthusiasm for them: "It's so cool, they remind me of how I was seven years ago. It makes me proud to see all these new faces!" That's what we call a seal of quality!
Watch Red Bull Cliff Diving Mostar Live
This event will be LIVE on September 8 at 1:15 PM CEST (11:15 AM GMT) on www.redbullcliffdiving.com, Red Bull TV, Facebook, & Youtube. If you miss the event or simply want to watch all the action again, the replay will be available on demand a few minutes after the event.
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