Britain's Gary Hunt and Rhiannan Iffland from Australia made the perfect start to their title defence at the first stop of the 2017 World Series at Inis Mór, with both divers coming from behind to secure a crucial victory at the demanding Serpent's Lair location. Hunt's fellow Brit, Blake Aldridge, took second spot on the podium while America's Andy Jones finished third from the 27m platform. A premiere for the women in this location, Iffland was joined on the podium by Yana Nestsiarava of Belarus and American Ginger Huber in a tied second place in front of a sell-out crowd of 1500 spectators.
In one of the closest competitions, the 60th World Series stop was decided in favour of the 6-time champion Hunt, who celebrated his 29th victory after a rocky start and an eighth place after two rounds. The 33-year-old had the difficulty on his side and played the experience card in a competition where the wind whirled and temperatures struggled to reach 13C.
"When you're up there in these conditions your training kind of goes out of the window, but with years and years of experience you remember to block things out and you just think about the actions you have to go through to perform your dives and not be distracted," explains the 'brilliant Brit'.
Only 0.15 points behind him, former Olympian Aldridge made it a successful start to the season in his 40th World Series appearance. Also the fight for the final spot on the podium was razor thin between Jones and Orlando Duque, with the American coming out 0.7points ahead of the legendary Colombian.
Mexico's 'style-master' Jonathan Paredes, who displayed his trademark water-ripping talent to lead until the final dive of the day, missed his new dive – a forward 4 somersaults 1 ½ twists pike – to finish 6th in probably the most challenging of the six stops in 2017.
In the women's the first ever rookie champion Iffland from Australia showed no nerves to finish 50 points ahead of a joint second place for Belarusian wildcard Yana Nestsiarava and Florida-based Ginger Huber from the 21m platform.
"Definitely it was the most challenging competition yet," said Iffland. Yesterday I was having my doubts with the conditions, but I came here this morning with a different attitude, just to get the job done and do the dives fluid and I think it really helps to go out with that positive attitude. I'm stoked."
Three of the women were unable to finish the competition, with the new format of four instead of three dives per competition adding to the rough and exposed setting diving into the natural sea-pool, where the crashing ocean waves caused their target to sink and swell wildly.
From the raw Atlantic coast, the World Series travels on to the pure cliffs of the Portuguese Azores in two weeks' time.
1 Gary Hunt, GBR - 384.40pts.
2 Blake Aldridge, GBR - 384.25
3 Andy Jones, USA - 380.30
4 Orlando Duque, COL - 379.60
5 David Colturi, USA - 352.50
6 Jonathan Paredes, MEX - 331.90
7 Kris Kolanus, POL - 325.30
8 Alessandro De Rose (W), ITA - 293.45
9 Alain Kohl (W), LUX - 235.25
10 Steven LoBue, USA - 228.70
11 Michal Navratil, CZE - 198.75
12 Artem Silchenko (W), RUS - 172.20
13 Igor Semashko (W), RUS - 150.90
14 Sergio Guzman, MEX - 145.60
1 Rhiannan Iffland, AUS - 316.60pts.
2 Yana Nestsiarava (W), BLR - 266.90
2 Ginger Huber, USA - 266.90
4 Tara Hyer-Tira (W), USA - 217.85
5 Eleanor Townsend Smart (W), USA -195.35
6 Helena Merten, AUS - 139.40
7 Cesilie Carlton, USA - 139.20
8 Adriana Jimenez, MEX - 102.70
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