Mental Block Stops Hunt from Twisting

Gary Hunt
Twists are off the menu for now as Brit concentrates on somersaults and style

Gary Hunt, the former Red Bull Cliff Diving champion and holder of six World Series titles, has provided the first big surprise of the season by declaring that he will not be adding any twists to his repertoire for the time being, following his well documented struggles with the manoeuvre last season. Instead, the Englishman will concentrate on somersaults and style in his bid to return to glory.

With the new season looming large at daunting Hell's Gate in Texas, the 33-year-old Brit has decided that playing it safe is the best policy in 2018, and believes that the decision will not only help him cut out the mistakes which cost him the title last season, but that it could also be the key to reclaiming the crown once more.

Hunt takes some advice on board from Sports Director and Olympic diving legend Greg Louganis. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.

Over the years, Hunt has devised and executed the most difficult dives on the tour, and since the World Series began back in 2009, twisting has provided him with the ammunition for his highest scoring dives, helping to propel him to a record 30 victories. But an injury early in 2017 shook him hard, sowing the seeds of doubt in his mind.

"Getting lost in the air or crashing is a massive setback," says Hunt. "It's all about confidence in this sport and once you really hurt yourself up there you question your abilities and that can be really debilitating for a cliff diver."

As the season progressed, his faith in the tried and tested twists reached a critical low, ultimately leading to that failed final dive in Chile and the devastating loss of his crown to Jonathan Paredes

"When you fall off a horse," explains Hunt, "you're told to get back up there. But it's been a long seven months since Chile."

Despite his struggles, it's difficult to envision Gary Hunt going through a whole season without a single twist. Can the man who used to wow crowds with his hardest dive in the world - a front three somersaults with 41/2 twists - really compete at the very top without his most powerful weapon?

"I'm still going into this competition with the mindset of diving the best as I can," says the Brit. "It's going to be much more difficult to win with the lower DD (Degree of Difficulty), but what I expect from myself is a solid set of dives, no mistakes, clean entries and a nice tight form."

And if Thursday's training session in Texas is anything to go by, things look promising for Hunt.

"I'm taking my foot off the accelerator at the start of this year doing easier dives," he says. "but the DD doesn't matter when you do a new dive, it's always scary because you have doubts in that first try. Now that I have got one repetition of each dive done and dusted I'm going to sleep a lot better tonight."

Not a twist in sight as Hunt completes a solid training session at Hell's Gate before the season opener this weekend. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.

Hunt may be playing it safe for now, but he has recently recruited the services of renowned diving coach, Hui Tong, and eventually hopes to be back to his twisting best.

"I'm very lucky to have Hui Tong as my coach, he's had good results before and he's very motivated and enthusiastic," says Hunt. "The physique of my body is more designed for twisting. I have a very thin waist and this is why I turn in this direction much faster. I'm aiming to get back to that"

Twists may be off the menu for now, but Hunt's hunger for success is as strong as ever. He may be dishing up a new set of dives, but don't rule out the 'brilliant Brit' returning to glory in this anniversary season.

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