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The Greatest Cliff Diving Rivalries

Artem Silchenko and Gary Hunt
Datum: 29/05/2020

"The most important thing is not winning, but taking part. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well."

Those are the century-old words of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the Olympics, and they still ring true to this day. Of course, the natural desire to win has always existed. But it's that innate will to fight, to struggle, to battle on, even when all hope may be gone, that has provided the sporting world with some of its most dramatic and enduring rivalries. What would tennis have been without McEnroe vs. Borg, Serena vs. Venus, and Roger vs. Rafa. Would boxing be so popular if we weren't able to eulogise about Ali vs. Frazer, Tyson vs. Holyfield and Sugar Ray vs. Jake. Regardless of who claimed gold, who picked up titles, or who wore the belts, it's the battles themselves that have helped transcend such rivalries into sporting folklore.

And Red Bull Cliff Diving is no different. Since the inception of the World Series back in 2009, fans across the globe have been treated to some unforgettable tussles for the King Kahekili Trophy, in both the men's and women's categories. Here, we take a look back at six of the best from down the years. 

Have a read through the rivalry teasers, then see how the action unfolded in clips from our YouTube channel.

Orlando Duque vs. Gary Hunt (2009 & 2012)

Die-hard fans may point to the age difference between cliff diving legend Orlando Duque and the successor to his throne, Gary Hunt, and rue the fact that had it been closer than 10 years, we may well have seen a truly momentous and long-lived battle for supremacy. At just 25 in 2009, the fresh-faced Brit Hunt (now representing France) was just embarking on what would be a glorious career, while Colombia's Duque, at 35, was already approaching the twilight of his record-breaking run at the top of the cliff diving game. Despite the two men never meeting at their mutual peak, the master Duque wasn't willing to hand over the baton without a fight, and in the early days there were some excitingly close title tussles between the two. In 2012, it was a barely believable 0.5pts that separated them in the final showdown.



 

Gary Hunt vs. Artem Silchenko (2013)

Hunt began the 2013 season having firmly stamped his authority on the World Series. Three titles in a row and a seemingly unshakable stranglehold on his rivals meant the Brit was an overwhelming favourite once again going into the new season. Enter Russia's Artem Silchenko. The powerhouse cliff diver had already delivered some eye-catching performances, finishing in the overall top 3 in three of the previous four seasons. But in 2013, he shifted up a gear. He opened up with two wins out of two, but Hunt found his form during the next few stops and had wrestled the lead away from the Russian before the final in Thailand. What followed was a title showdown in paradise. Hunt's artistry versus Silchenko's power, precision and bravery. It was a final that will live long in the memory.

 

Rhiannan Iffland vs. Lysanne Richard (2016)

2014 saw the introduction of the women's World Series, and after two dominating title victories for American Rachelle Simpson, we were treated to our first real title rumble in the division in 2016. Simpson began as favourite once again, but nobody could have predicted what was to follow. Wildcard Rhiannan Iffland was dipping her toes in the World Series for the very first time, and the Australian debutante announced herself in style by scoring a sensational victory at the first stop in Texas. She followed it up with another win at the next event in the Portuguese Azores, and all eyes were on Simpson as fans waited for a strong comeback. Instead, it was Canada's Lysanne Richard who leapt from the shadows, winning two of the next three stops to lay down the challenge to Iffland. The thrilling fight for the King Kahekili trophy went right down to the final night-time dives in Dubai.

 

Jonathan Paredes vs. Gary Hunt (2017)

Since he first arrived on the cliff diving scene back in 2011, no one had ever doubted the ability and potential of Mexico's Jonathan Paredes. A flawless technique, coupled with consistently ripped entries, had earned him the nickname 'the stylemaster', and even in those early days he was tipped to be a future champion. During the next four years the Mexican made steady progress, but things finally began to take-off in 2015, with his first-ever victory coming in Mostar that summer. He opened up the 2016 season with another win in Texas, and some strong performances earned him the overall runner-up spot behind Gary Hunt. Paredes was edging closer to his destiny, and in 2017 it all came down to the very last dive for him and Hunt in the waterfalls of Chile. The stage was set for an exciting finish, but no one could have predicted what was to unfold that afternoon. Quite simply, the most dramatic moment in World Series history.

 

Rhiannan Iffland vs. Adriana Jimenez (2018)

Following her thrilling battle with Lysanne Richard in 2016, Iffland followed up her debut title victory with another one in 2017. The quest for a hat-trick in 2018, however, was not a straightforward one, and the Australian was pushed all the way by Adriana Jimenez. At 33 years of age, the Mexican enjoyed the best season of her career, picking up two wins in the first four stops and carrying an overall lead heading into the season finale in Polignano a Mare. But Iffland had a trick up her sleeve; a clever change of tactic which ramped up the pressure on her rival. Would Jimenez hold her nerve to claim her first King Kahekili trophy, or would Iffland's plan pay off and lead her to title number three?