Alessandro De Rose scored a sensational victory on home soil at the third stop of the 2017 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Polignano a Mare, showing nerves of steel to produce an immaculate final dive and send 50,000 fans wild. The 25-year-old, who became the first wildcard to ever win in the men's, was overcome with emotion as his score was unveiled.
Americans David Colturi and Andy Jones joined him on the podium in second and third respectively. Reigning champion Gary Hunt failed to make the final round and the Brit has now lost his lead in the overall standings to Colombia's Orlando Duque.
In the women's it was Australian Rhiannan Iffland who rediscovered her fine form after missing the podium for the first time in nine events at the last stop. On a day of high drama, it was a pair of wildcards who powered into the top three behind Iffland. Brazil's Jacqueline Valente secured the first podium of her career in second, with German Anna Bader grabbing another third-place finish, making it two in a row since returning from her baby break.
The successful trip to Polignano a Mare started in De Rose's adopted home of Trieste and took him to some of Italy's most beautiful destinations before climaxing on the 27m platform above the Adriatic Sea. On a blisteringly hot day in the south of Italy, an enthusiastic crowd turned out to watch the world's best cliff divers, and it was one of their own who had them roaring with delight on the beach and on the rocks. The only Italian diver in the World Series pulled out four stunning dives across two days of competition to become the first ever invitee to succeed in the men's competition.
"I have not yet realised that just happened," said a disbelieving De Rose. "One moment I was on the platform, I hit the water and the people were screaming. The crowd was a big help today. Every time I was on the platform, I was really nervous. As soon as I heard the people below, my heartbeat started to go down a bit. So I knew the people are with me and I only had to dive as I know it. It's a dream come true. Orlando is a legend, Gary is a legend and I was better than them."
Also back on the podium after a long period of recovery was American Colturi, who scored his 9th podium in his 40th World Series appearance. Compatriot Jones finished third for the second time this year after the opener in Ireland a month ago.
Halfway into the season, the 32-year-old holds this position in the overall standings as well. Ahead of him sits reigning champion Gary Hunt in second. The record winner from England gambled with his most difficult dive, but it failed to pay off and he missed the final round of the top 8 in this location, just as in the previous year. The new leader in the men's overall standings is today's sixth placed Duque, the legendary diver from Colombia who took his first victory in 27 competitions at the last stop on the Azores.
In the women's the surprise World Series champion from 2016, Rhiannan Iffland from Australia, came back strong to secure her seventh win in ten competitions. Behind her, the day of the wildcards continued with 31-year-old Jaki Valente locking in the first ever podium for Brazil and Germany's Anna Bader continuing her top performance from Portugal with another 3rd place.
"On the first dive I felt a bit of pressure," said Iffland, "because Ginger did an amazing dive and the second one I had Blake up there telling me what I had to do and how to do it. But I just let myself enjoy it and let the nerves pass. I had a great dive, so I'm super stoked. I had the injury so that was my main concern in the past week trying to get better for the next few competitions. I felt the pressure a lot and it was hard the first day of training here, but I couldn't be happier now."
In the overall standings from 21m, Australia leads ahead of Mexico, with previous event winner Adriana Jimenez in second, and Ginger Huber from the US, who performed the best scoring dive of the competition with all 9s from the judges, in third.
After three stops within the space of five weeks, the World Series takes a summer break and will travel across the Atlantic to touch down in Texas, USA on September 3.
1- Alessandro De Rose (W) (ITA) – 397.00pts.
2- David Colturi (USA) – 389.20
3- Andy Jones (USA) - 378.55
4- Jonathan Paredes (MEX) – 377.75
5- Michal Navratil (CZE) – 370.85
6- Orlando Duque (COL) – 357.30
7- Blake Aldridge (GBR) – 326.70
8- Artem Silchenko (W) (RUS) - 320.40
9- Gary Hunt (GBR) – 248.20
10- Sergio Guzman (MEX) – 236.30
11- Viktar Maslouski (W) (BLR) - 232.40
12- Steven LoBue (USA) – 223.35
13- Kris Kolanus (POL) – 216.10
14- Owen Weymouth (W) (GBR) – 205.95
1- Rhiannan Iffland (AUS) – 305.80pts.
2- Jacqueline Valente (W) (BRA) – 280.15
3- Anna Bader (W) (GER) – 279.05
4- Adriana Jimenez (MEX) – 269.55
5- Helena Merten (AUS) – 263.80
6- Ginger Huber (USA) – 263.60
7- Eleanor Townsend Smart (W) (USA) – 232.70
8- Cesilie Carlton (USA) – 219.80
Watch the Polignano a Mare Replay