Saint Peter's Basilica in the back, surrounded by angles and drenched in history – this is how Italy's Alessandro De Rose and two-time champion Rhiannan Iffland from Australia experienced the early hours of the day. One after the other they leapt from the ancient Ponte Sant'Angelo, the Bridge of Angels, in the heart of Rome before heading south to Polignano a Mare, where both emerged victoriously last year. While De Rose is excited to return to the location of his debut win, Iffland targets the overall hat-trick in the women's to become the most successful female World Series diver to date.
"Thinking of Polignano still gives me goose bumps, I feel excited and proud of myself," stated De Rose, the first Italian in the World Series, "but diving from this bridge next to the Castel Sant'Angelo in my capital city is such an honour for me. It's really special and a beautiful sensation."
Built between 133 and 134 AD by Emperor Hadrian, the bridge connects the Eternal City to Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican and is considered one of the most beautiful bridges in the world until today. Its regularity, symmetry, openness to light, and perfect distance between arches and water surface make it unique. The highlight of the structure are the statues of the angels flanking the marble parapets, which seem to frame the river as it flows, visible through the elegant wrought iron grating.
"It was a bit surreal standing up and looking around the city with Saint Peter's right in the back. It's a once in a lifetime experience. Not many people can say they've dived right in front of something so iconic to this city," described two-time champion Iffland, who has every chance to make it a hat-trick of overall wins this weekend. "I love Polignano a Mare, it's an important competition. It's time to go all in. I have nothing to lose."
In this anniversary season, three men and three women are still in contention for the overall titles from 27m and 21m as two champions will emerge from the Adriatic waters in the small coastal town where houses rise from the rocks.
Just 20 points separate the top two men and women in the fight for the King Kahekili trophy after England's Gary Hunt and Adriana Jimenez from Mexico leapfrogged Steven LoBue (USA) and Rhiannan Iffland (AUS) with victory at the penultimate stop in Mostar. Never has it been so close, and thousands of passionate fans are expected to stir up a feverish atmosphere when the athletes take to the platforms built on a private balcony
Watch Live from Polignano a Mare
This event will be LIVE on September 23 at 13:10 PM CEST (11:10 AM GMT) on www.redbullcliffdiving.com, Red Bull TV, Facebook & Youtube. Red Bull TV is available on connected TVs, gaming consoles, mobile devices and more. Find out more at about.redbull.tv
If you miss the event or simply want to watch all the action again, the replay will be available on demand a few minutes after the event.