In the place where houses rise from the rocks, Australia's Rhiannan Iffland will look to continue her winning streak in the women's in the south of Italy, while men's leader Gary Hunt (GBR) will certainly have one eye on rising star Constantin Popovici (ROU), who broke the Brit's stranglehold in impressive style in the previous stop in Ireland. Thousands of passionate fans will once again fill every vantage point on land and sea to catch a glimpse of the 24 divers as they take to the platforms built on a private terrace in their hunt for the King Kahekili trophy.
She's been the dominant force in female cliff diving ever since her victory as a debut wildcard in 2016. With 13 wins in 19 starts, 27-year-old Iffland took diving from 21m to a new level, not only leaving her fans in awe but also her competitors. While only Canada's Lysanne Richard, 10 years senior to the Australian, shows consistency with two podiums in two events, none of the other women in the 2019 line-up have yet raised a claim for the top spot.
In 2018, the champions were crowned in the heart of European cliff diving and the Australian won with a point record in the women's. In this 27th competition in the Women's World Series, she can add another chapter to the sport's history and equal the record winning streak of four across seasons, currently held by America's Rachelle Simpson.
In the men's, competition is slightly tighter, as record man Hunt faces a new challenge in the form of Constantin Popovici, an Olympic diver from Romania, who also strives for qualification for Tokyo 2020 as he aspires to the highest cliff diving honours. Following the 30-year-old's second place at the season opener in the Philippines, a precise and constant performance secured Popovici his maiden victory under harsh Irish conditions, including a 10 – the highest note from the judges.
America's Steven LoBue and Jonathan Paredes from Mexico, runner-up and third overall in 2018, will certainly need to up their game in order to stay in contention. Besides them, a close eye will be on another Romanian; wildcard Catalin Preda, who took third place in his first-ever showing in Mostar last year, and who is expected to have a say in the men's competition from the 27m platform.
Returning to Italy, the country with the most World Series stops in 11 years, means a return to the most unusual take-off point. In order to get to the platforms high above the Adriatic Sea, the world's best cliff divers enter a private house, walk through the living room and find their stages mounted on the rooftop terrace. 60,000 passionate fans on the water and rocks below are expected to stir up a feverish atmosphere when the athletes are welcomed in Polignano a Mare for the 7th time since 2009, and the first-ever time on Italy's National Day.
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