When snowstorm Filomena hit the Spanish capital mid-January to blanket Madrid in the most snow in five decades and brought the whole area to a standstill, Jonathan Paredes fled to warmer regions on the other side of the globe to focus on freefalling in style and grace. In Colombia, it was not only a good 30°C warmer upon arrival, but it also offered great training facilities including expert encouragement from Orlando Duque – friend, mentor for years and now also coach.
"The situation in Madrid was totally crazy after the snowstorm; the roads collapsed, and it got nuts. So, I said that I have to leave that place. I took my phone and grabbed a plane ticket to Colombia," Paredes recalls. "Best decision! Being in Colombia with my good friend Orlando was awesome. I really needed that in my life to try and set a training day and return to this routine again. That was really awesome."
Six weeks later, the 2019 overall runner-up has restocked on Colombian cuisine as well as gotten back into a training regime that allows him to look forward to a new season with great confidence and excitement.
"It's not that last year felt like a break at all. After we received the bad news, that the World Series was cancelled, I quickly grabbed a job in Holland. So, I worked there the full summer and honestly, I was in the best shape of my life because I trained there together with a team. Alessandro De Rose was also there, and we have more or less the same dreams. We are fighting for the same thing," explains the World Series champion from 2017, "I took about 2 months off after the summer and then I started training again. I never had a break in reality. This month and a half with Orlando, it was very good though, and it was very important."
The circumstances were a little different than in the previous years: The Colombian diving legend Orlando Duque had called it a day for his competitive diving career at the end of the 2019 season and was now the one to be milked – for his experience, advice, mental insights, and training secrets.
"Now that Orlando is retired, I really wanted him as a coach and as someone who can transmit and provide all that experience from the other point of view. He advises me on what I have to do, what I need to change. All the mental part that he can share with me is great. We talked a lot during these one and a half months. As everybody knows, we have a very good connection, and we are very good friends. Orlando shared some of his training secrets and I was really happy with that."
Clearly, there's a lot more than plain and pure training and so the special connection the 31-year-old feels for the country, the people and the food of Colombia played a major role in the success of this extended training camp. "The training, the travel, the friendship. Everything was perfect! I really needed that in my life, and this was just the perfect time to do it."
So, what fruits will we see during the competition season coming from the Cali camp?
"We decided to work on two new dives. The situation and delay give me a little bit more time to get ready and prepare it. Hopefully I can make it happen in the first competition of the year. I feel okay. But to be honest of course I'm a bit scared. No one is in the rhythm for a competition right now. That last dive in September 2019 was amazing, it was a great competition. But since then, life has changed so much, that right now I can only say that I trust on what I am doing ... and hopefully it's going to pay off in the next competitions."
The break was not just long for the Mexican, but also for everyone else in the World Series and so a return to the 27m platform will be interesting to say the least. "What is Gary going to do, what is Costa going to bring. Aidan, will he come back even stronger and better? We think about that the whole time," Paredes puts his thoughts into words. "But I think this is just something that we have to wait on and see because everyone is going to be kind of on the same page."
When the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series returns in 2021, the excitement on and off the platform will reach a new level as the Madrid-based 'style master' points out. "To be honest I was just looking forward to the beginning of the year and the beginning of the competitions. To share with the guys again and with the family. Because at the end we're a big family. We're always travelling together, sharing the fear, all those feelings that only we know. At this point however, trying to make these two new dives, I'm kind of scared of the start the series and trying these new dives.
"I think I'm just full of emotions and feelings about what's going to happen, what's next. I'm just very excited to get some news and hopefully see everyone again and be together."