Take a quick glance back at the men's Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series winners over the past eight seasons, and you would be forgiven for thinking that the 2017 title may well be a foregone conclusion. The seemingly unstoppable Brit, Gary Hunt, has won six of those eight titles, inlcuding the last three in a row, and will clearly be the favourite once again. But over the course of nine thrilling events in 2016, there were signs that the chasing pack might just be closing in on Hunt. Six different winners stepped up onto the top of the podium last season, more than ever before, proving that the competition is certainly getting stronger and that the fight for glory in 2017 might be the tightest one yet.
With the new season just around the corner, let's take a closer look at the top five contenders for the men's title.
Andy Jones (USA)
32-year-old Andy Jones has been competing in the World Series since 2014, with last season being his best so far. The California-based athlete grabbed three podium finishes before surging to victory at the season finale in Dubai, where he utilised his Cirque du Soleil background in the first-ever night time event. Having finished third overall last year, the American, who combines his height and free-running passion to produce a unique diving style, will be hopeful of mounting a serious challenge for the title in 2017.
• 2016 - 1st Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Dubai (UAE)
• 2015 - 3rd Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Azores (POR)
• 2007 - University of Utah 'Diver of the Year
Michal Navratil (CZE)
After seven seasons competing in the World Series, it was a mid-season knee surgery in 2016 which finally triggered a sensational run of form from the Czech Republic's Michal Navratil. Following a lightning fast recovery, the super-fit 'Supratil' scored a magnificent maiden victory at his comeback event in Pembrokeshire, before repeating the trick and making it two in a row in Mostar. The 31-year-old wrapped up his best season ever with a fourth place finish overall, proving with those two unforgettable victories that he has the body, mind and will to compete with the best in this sport.
• 7-time Czech high diving champion
• 2016 - 1st Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Pembrokeshire (GBR) & Mostar (BIH)
• 2012 - 3rd Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Corsica (FRA)
• 2011 - 2nd Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in La Rochelle (FRA)
• 2011 - Winner Marmeeting
• 2011 & 2012 - Winner High Diving World Cup
Orlando Duque (COL)
For almost 20 years, the sport's main ambassador has developed and established this raw and extreme discipline, and has won literally everything – the inaugural World Series in 2009 as well as the first FINA High Diving World Championship title in 2013, amongst others – and there's still no stopping this man at the age of 42. He holds 13 world titles and two Guinness world records, and while 2016 was his first season ever without a podium, nobody could rule this legend out of the title fight in 2017.
• 13 world titles
• Winner of eight Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series competitions to date
• Two Guinness world records
• 2015 & 2014 - winner FINA High Diving World Cup
• 2013 - FINA High Diving World Champion
• 2009 - Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series champion
• 2008, 2005 - Winner Red Bull Cliff Diving, Lake Wolfgang
Jonathan Paredes (MEX)
Following steady progress during his first few seasons in the World Series, including a first-ever win in Mostar in 2015, Mexican Jonathan Paredes stepped things up a level last season with a series of performances - one victory and four 3rd place finishes - that proved he is currently the main threat to Gary Hunt's reign at the top. His trademark clean entries have earned him the nickname 'ripping machine', and his sights are firmly set on going one better in 2017 and finally laying his hands on the King Kahekili Trophy.
• 2016 - 1st Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Texas (USA)
• 2016 - 2nd FINA High Diving World Cup
• 2015 - 1st Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Mostar (BIH)
• 2015 - 2nd FINA High Diving World Championship
Gary Hunt (GBR)
Despite the raised levels of his closest competitors last season, not many people would bet against Gary Hunt securing his seventh title and his fourth in a row this season. The 'brilliant Brit' may have been pushed all the way in 2016, but his passion for continually improving himself, coupled with the bare facts - 28 victories and 51 podiums in 59 competitions - means that this truly gifted athlete will no doubt be at the top of his game once again as he goes in search of further glory this summer.
• 6-time winner Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series
• Winner of 28 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series competitions to date
• 2016 - Winner FINA High Diving World Cup
• 2015 - FINA High Diving World Champion
• 2006 - 3rd Commonwealth Games 10m Synchro