The permanent line-up for the 2019 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series has now been confirmed following the final ranking event of the season at the weekend. The FINA World Cup in Abu Dhabi was the last chance for divers not already qualified for next season to earn their spot, and the final list sees three wildcards making the leap up to permanent status for the first time in their career.
In the men's category, Constantin Popovici becomes the first Romanian to qualify as a permanent diver. The 30-year-old only made his debut mid-way through the 2018 season, but some strong performances coupled with a second-place finish behind World Series champion Gary Hunt in Abu Dhabi, earned him his ticket. Popovici, a former Olympic diver, will also continue his quest to qualify for Tokyo 2020 in regular diving while simultaneously targeting glory from the 27m platform next summer.
Joining Popovici is Oleksiy Prygorov, the only Olympic medal winner in the permanent line-up, who has competed as a wildcard at four stops over the last two seasons. Of those who hadn't already qualified, the 31-year-old Ukrainian was the best performer at the World Cup - finishing in third place - earning him an automatic promotion to the 10-man line-up.
Dropping down to wildcard status are Italy's Alessandro De Rose, who didn't quite live up to expectations following a stunning season in 2017, and Colombian cliff diving legend Orlando Duque, who will be absent from the permanent line-up for the first time in the World Series' 10 year history.
In the women's, Eleanor Townsend Smart of the USA was the best performer of those not already qualified in Abu Dhabi, meaning she too earns that golden ticket to join the 6-woman list next season. She finished third in the World Cup behind two stars of the women's competition, Rhiannan Iffland and Lysanne Richard, and at just 23-years-old, she will be the youngest permanent diver on the tour in 2019.
Ginger Huber, an ever-present in the women's since they began competing in 2014, drops down to wildcard status.
At every stop in 2019, the ten permanent men and six permanent women will be joined by four wildcards in each category, spicing up the competition and giving newcomers the chance to shine.
Below is the confirmed permanent line-up for 2019.
Gary HUNT, GBR
Steven LOBUE, USA
Jonathan PAREDES, MEX
Michal NAVRATIL, CZE
David COLTURI (Injury Policy), USA
Constantin POPOVICI, ROU
Kris KOLANUS, POL
Andy JONES, USA
Blake ALDRIDGE, GBR
Oleksiy PRYGOROV, UKR
Rhiannan IFFLAND, AUS
Adriana JIMENEZ, MEX
Lysanne RICHARD, CAN
Jessica MACAULAY, GBR
Yana NESTSIARAVA, BLR
Eleanor TOWNSEND SMART, USA