Gary Hunt scored the perfect dive in his 77th appearance and became the first man ever to be awarded all tens from the judges since the introduction of the World Series in 2009. The Brit was at his brilliant best in a brand new off-the-cliff competition in Lebanon, with a wide-margin victory ahead of second-placed David Colturi of America, and Romanian wildcard Catalin Preda in third. It was also a record breaking competition in the women's as Rhiannan Iffland powered past Mexico's Adriana Jimenez by more than 54 points to remain unbeaten in 2019, while Belarusian Yana Nestsiaravacompleted the podium in third. 12,000 spectators watched on as the World Series hit new grounds and set new standards off the coast of Beirut's neighbourhood of Raouché.
Following a day when high waves around the Pigeon Rocks forced a schedule cut to one dive only from the cliff face, the men and women of the World Series presented themselves in absolute top form, beating records on end from up to 27m as the oldest extreme sport hit new grounds in one of the world's oldest city.
The perfect dive
In another commanding performance, 27-year-old Iffland not only bettered her own point record for an optional dive by a significant 13 points, but also received three 10s for a single dive – an absolute novelty in the women's. It was not only the Australian who broke records in the competition from the city's most significant landmark as second placed Jimenez improved the high score for a required dive on day one. With the slightest of margins ahead of fourth place, Belarussia's Nestsiarava secured her third season podium.
In the men's a sensational final dive gave record winner Hunt a runaway victory at the 5th stop of the season. At his brilliant best, the 35-year-old finished off with a perfect 10 dive, after he'd ripped his first dive directly off the cliff into the Mediterranean Sea to earn two 10s from the judges, to surpass Jonathan Paredes' (MEX) combined record of six times the highest note from the jury at a single stop.
40 points behind the Brit, America's Colturi finished in 2nd place after a slow start in this pure venue while invitee Preda from Romania took his second third place in his overall 4th showing. In the overall standings the dominant duo Hunt and Iffland top the boards with the same lead ahead of their closest challengers. The Brit is followed by Paredes and Jones in the men's while the sport's dominant female force from down under is trailed by Nestsiarava and Jessica Macaulay from Great Britain gong into the last two stops of the year.
This dive made it six in a row
From the urban wilderness of Beirut's Raouché neighbourhood and the third off-the-cliff competition in the current year, the cliff diving elite travels to the FINA High Diving World Championships in South Korea in eight days' time before they continue their battle for the King Kahekili trophy in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina on August 24, in the 2019 World Series' penultimate stop.
Quotes from the winners Gary Hunt, GBR
I'm very happy. Yesterday we hat one less dive than usual. I made the decision not to practice my dives in training, to try and stay as fresh as possible. So within 4 or 5 dives and I finished the competition with another win. I think it was challenging because of the weather and the waves. We couldn't even go over to the islet on the boat yesterday. We had to zipline across, everything was up in the air. I just have to try and stay strong and focused. My goal as always is to do four strong dives. I'm setting no other goal than this this year.
Rhiannan Iffland, AUS
This year I just think I've found my rhythm. I feel like I'm in a good place mentally. I know I have done the training in a long off season putting in the work. Now it's paying off. I'm just trying to be in a good place up there, in a good headspace and rely on my training. It's definitely working. I'm absolutely shuffling my dives. I don't think I've scored this high ever, this is a new personal best for me. I guess it can be a goal to win all the events. I'm seeing this a little bit more achievable after this event. I just want to stay really consistent and feeling comfortable with myself.
Results – Stop #5, Beirut, LBN
1- Gary Hunt GBR – 369.50pts.
2- David Colturi USA – 329.40
3- Catalin Preda (W) ROU – 322.75
4- Jonathan Paredes MEX – 315.45
5- Michal Navratil CZE – 291.70
6- Steven LoBue USA – 278.20
7- Blake Aldridge GBR – 271.10
8- Oleksiy Prygorov UKR – 268.65
9- Matthias Appenzeller (W) SUI – 263.30
10- Andy Jones USA – 247.05
11- Nathan Jimerson (W) USA – 234.70
12- Kris Kolanus POL – 221.60
13- Alain Kohl (W) LUX – 219.65
14- Miguel Garcia (W) COL – 58.80
1- Rhiannan Iffland AUS - 306.15pts.
2- Adriana Jimenez MEX – 251.85
3- Yana Nestsiarava BLR – 242.25
4- Iris Schmidbauer (W) GER – 242.15
5- Eleanor Townsend Smart USA – 214.25
6- Jessica Macaulay GBR – 203.85
7- Maria Paula Quintero (W) COL – 194.15
8- Xantheia Pennisi (W) AUS – 183.90
9- Celia Fernandez (W) ESP – 180.55
10- Genevieve Bradley (W) USA – 174.35
Standings* (after 5 of 7 stops)
1- Gary Hunt GBR – 800pts.
2- Jonathan Paredes MEX – 460
3- Andy Jones USA – 380
4- Michal Navratil CZE – 370
5- David Colturi USA – 310
1- Rhiannan Iffland AUS – 800pts.
2- Yana Nestsiarava BLR - 460
3- Jessica Macaulay GBR – 430
4- Lysanne Richard CAN – 370
5- Adriana Jimenez MEX – 3
Watch the Lebanon Replay
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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.