After two rounds of diving at the penultimate stop of the 2018 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina, it is Mexico's Jonathan Paredes and Adriana Jimenez who lead the way in the men's and women's standings. Czech Republic's Michal Navratil and American Steven LoBue sit second and third in the men's, with the hat-trick chasing Gary Hunt of Great Britain getting off to a slow start in ninth place. Jimenez is chased in the women's by title rivals Rhiannan Iffland of Australia and Canada's Lysanne Richard in second and third respectively.
Paredes, knowing that a win from the iconic Stari Most is crucial if he is to stay in the fight for the title, fired himself off to the perfect start at the scene of his first-ever victory back in 2015. The reigning champion ripped the cold Neretva river in typically stylish fashion to earn himself a series of near-perfect scores from the judges.
"The fight between myself, Gary and Steven has been very rough," said Paredes. "I have to make it here, there is no other chance to beat these guys. I handled the pressure today and I'm very happy about that. Mostar is very special to me. I won my first World Series event here and the people really like me and cheer for me. I hope to give them a good result, hopefully a win."
Hunt, who has returned to form recently in spectacular style with back-to-back wins in Switzerland and Copenhagen, will be disappointed with a below par second round dive which leaves him 23 points behind Paredes after two of four dives from the 27m platform. Series leader LoBue, however, has no such worries after an impressive start.
"It was a great day today," said LoBue. "The competition is going really well and I think we can look forward to another high-scoring final here like in Copenhagen. It's great to be back in Mostar; it's a city so rich in culture and diving history, and it's great to share that with the locals and to compete off such an iconic location."
The top three women in the overall standings currently occupy the Mostar podium spots after their first two dives from 21m, and Jimenez will be aiming to close the 20 point gap that currently splits her and Series leader Iffland in the battle for the King Kahekili trophy.
"My dives were good today," said 33-year-old Jimenez. "The cold water is not great for me, but I worked my mind around it and it went really well. I have another two dives tomorrow though and I will put everything into it."
No diver has ever repeated a victory from this magnificent old bridge, and in three previous stops here the winner has failed to go on and secure the title. The contenders for the crown will be hoping for that to change on Saturday, as they go in search of the crucial championship points that could put them in pole position at the season showdown in Polignano a Mare, Italy, in two weeks' time.
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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