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. Lifting off from natural surface it was Mexican 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.
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. 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.
"It's been a difficult last few seasons," admitted Duque. "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. I know I can do my dives, they are working okay, so there is a chance. I'm happy I could do four good dives and win here."
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.
Mexico's 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," said an overjoyed Jimenez. "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. I was lost in one dive, so it was hard for me to come back in a good shape. I'm so happy and I'm proud of myself because I did it."
Helena Merten from Australia grabbed the second spot on the podium thanks to a truly spectacular off-the-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.
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
11- Michal Navratil (CZE) – 201.75
12- Artem Silchenko (W) (RUS) – 192.05
13- Miguel Garcia (W) (COL) – 188.60
14- Todor Spasov (W) (BUL) - 165.50
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
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