New Kids on the Block

Jessica Macaulay, Nikita Fedotov and Maria Paula Quintero
Date: 02/06/2018

The World Series has a history of lifting the rookies to the top, as in 2016 a wildcard not only took the win in her debut appearance but also the overall title in the same year. Australia's Rhiannan Iffland, two-time champion in the women's, was the first cliff diving sensation and her heirs seem to be on her heels already. Athletes as young as 17 years are spicing up the competitions and are claiming their spots on the podiums.

In last year's penultimate stop young Russian Nikita Fedotov, World Series debutante, produced a surprising but stunning performance to finish in third. With three nines and two nine and a halves from the judges, the 23-year-old earned the highest scores of the day in his first ever appearance, letting his great talent for acrobatic 3-second-manoeuvres shine through.

Over in the women's it's Great Britain's Jessica Macaulay, who scored the highest note for an individual dive from the judges in only her second showing during the opening rounds in Texas, USA, this weekend. With 108 points for her first optional dive, the 25-year-old bettered the record by 3 points to jump into the lead before the competition continues on Saturday, more than 15 points ahead of her closest competitor.

"I am so excited to be here and I've been wanting that for so long. I'm having so much fun; I think that's helping me to do my best," Macaulay, who works as a high diver on a cruise ship, says, "All the divers, they just really motivate me to do my best. I really want everybody to do their best, always cheering people on and when they do great, it really inspires me to do great as well."

Jessica Macaulay made a stunning start in Texas in what is only her second-ever appearance in the World Series. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.

Is it a new generation knocking on the World Series' doors here in Texas?

"I definitely feel like we are a new generation of divers coming in," explains Eleanor Townsend Smart, "but at the same time it feels like we are just the same as everyone else other than the fact that they have all the experience."

The 22-year-old American has three starts and a top five finish from 2017 to her name. "Getting to be here, watch these great divers and learn from them is so helpful and I think this is really going to help us progress to the next generation of athletes."

It is 17-year-old Maria Paula Quintero from Colombia – her stepfather Miguel Garcia competes in the men's as a wildcard – who is the youngest female athlete ever to launch from 21m in her quest for high scores from the judges. "Being the youngest diver in the field is definitely an honour and I'm totally proud of myself," she explains, "I am super happy with what I'm doing right now."

Andrey Ignatenko (2R), winner of the first Red Bull Cliff Diving world series event in 2009 and now series judge, talks with wildcard divers (L-R) Eleanor Townsend Smart, Jessica Macaulay and Nikita Fedotov. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.

The young ladies' wish to have other young women coming into the sport is definitely getting heard and the excitement for a new generation of cliff divers is palpable.

"But", Macaulay adds, "we do love the old ones as well!"

Watch Live from Texas

This event will be LIVE on June 2 at 3:15 PM CDT (8:15 PM GMT) on www.redbullcliffdiving.com, Red Bull TV, Facebook and 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.

Read and watch more Red Bull Cliff Diving here