It was a summit of a sort when the World Series champion from Mexico, Jonathan Paredes, was joined by traditional Old Bridge diver Lorens Listo on the cliffs high above the Neretva River some 45 minutes outside the ancient town of Mostar. In their specific diving styles – head first and feet first – the athletes plunged into the emerald waters to kick start the business end of the 2018 season with only two stops left before the coronation of the champions later this month. At Stari Most, the old bridge in Mostar, Paredes needs another strong showing in the location of his first ever World Series win to stay in contention to defend the title.
Diving from the Old Bridge has been a rite of passage for generations of men in the area. When the 452nd annual diving competition took place at the end of July, Lorens Listo won for the 12th time and he did that with a 'swallow dive' typically performed by Mostar's divers. Only one more victory, and he'll tie the long-term record of Emir Balic, the local legend, who has 13 wins to his name.
"It means a lot to me to dive with one of the local heroes. They have this huge tradition of diving here in Mostar and it's the first time for me to dive together, him going head first and me feet first," said the Mexican style master after emerging from the chilly river. "It's exciting to show Lorens a bit of my kind of diving before they allow us to dive from their bridge again."
While tradition is highly preserved by the locals, for 29-year-old Paredes it's all about the latest state of the art from 27m above the water. Complex dives and immaculate form are key in order to make a move for the overall standings as England's record-winner Gary Hunt eyes a hat-trick of wins in this wide-open anniversary season.
So far in five competitions from Stari Most, three for the men and two for the women, no one has ever repeated a victory, and the 34-year-old Brit is committed to break the embargo and defend his 2017 success. While Paredes and Hunt have both taken the glory in Bosnia and Herzegovina, top title rival and current overall leader Steven LoBue from America has yet to earn this honour.
In the women's, the battle for the King Kahekili trophy is even tighter. With Adriana Jimenez from Mexico, Australia's two-time champion Rhiannan Iffland and Canadian comeback-winner Lysanne Richard, the Women's World Series has seen three winners in as many competitions from the 21m platform. So far only surprise wildcard from Great Britain, Jessica Macaulay, stirred up the top rankings with two podiums.
Five new wildcard divers in the men's and women's competition will naturally add to the fanatical crowds' excitement when 24 elite cliff divers dive for glory, points and eternity off the old bridge.
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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