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Jessica Macaulay
Date: 22/02/2019

It's every cliff diver's dream to make it into the permanent line-up of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, and in 2019 there are four athletes making the leap up from wildcard to the big time. Following impressive performances last season, these fresh faces have ousted some of cliff diving's top names from the permanent list, and will compete at each of the seven stops around the globe this season.

Here's a closer look at the two men and two women making the step up.

Jessica Macaulay (Great Britain)

Jessica Macaulay was the surprise package of last season's opener in the US, securing the first ever podium for a female British diver in the World Series in only her second appearance. After her second round stunner from 21m, a back 3 somersaults, which broke the record for the highest scoring women's dive until that day, the then 25-year-old completed the 20th women's event in second place.

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Jessica Macaulay competes at the first stop of 2018 in Texas. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.

"I was so excited to be there and I've been wanting that for so long. I was 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, said. "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."

After six starts, including three podiums, the passionate high liner and declared adrenaline junkie is still waiting for her first win, but the 26-year-old clearly has that on her to-do list for this season.

Constantin Popovici (Romania)

In the right place at the right time – everything fell into place for Constantin Popovici last August when he followed the World Series to Copenhagen, Denmark, for a good training opportunity from 27m. When he was given Michal Navratil's spot there was no holding back the Olympic diver. He seized his chance to finish his first ever appearance in a strong 7th place, was awarded an invitation for Mostar and at the Marmeeting in Italy he won a wildcard for the season finale, where he finished in a sensational 5th place.

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Constantin Popovici took his chance in Copenhagen and has never looked back. Photo: Jesper Gronnemark/Red Bull Content Pool.

These strong performances coupled with a second-place finish behind World Series champion Gary Hunt in Abu Dhabi, earned the 30-year-old his ticket to become the first Romanian to qualify as permanent diver.

"Being part of the World Series means a big step in my diving career. After 20+ years of diving I feel like this is the time to step up to the next level."

Popovici, a former Olympic diver, will also continue his quest to qualify for Tokyo 2020 in regular diving while simultaneously targeting glory from the 27m platform this summer.

Eleanor Townsend Smart (USA)

Eleanor Townsend Smart of the USA was the best performer of those not already qualified for 2019 during the FINA High Diving World Cup in Abu Dhabi last November, meaning she too earns that golden ticket to join the 6-woman list this season. She finished third in the World Cup behind two stars of the women's competition, Rhiannan Iffland and Lysanne Richard, and at just 23-years-old, she will be the youngest permanent diver on the tour in 2019.

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Eleanor Townsend Smart - the youngest permanent athlete on the tour this season. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.

For her first season as a permanent athlete, the only American female has a few different types of goals: "My 'outcome goals' would be to finish top three at both the World Championships and Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series. I'd also want to win my first World Series stop! Then I have 'performance goals', I want to be the first girl to compete four twists and do back double quad. I also just want to become more consistent in competitions."

Oleksiy Prygorov (Ukraine)

Oleksiy Prygorov, a 2008 Olympic bronze-medallist from the 3m springboard (synchro), had to start from the low side of the pool when he first switched to high diving.

"First of all, my aim was to make it into the top 10 of the World Series, but after my second competition I realised it was a really difficult, tiring and dangerous sport."

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Oleksiy Prygorov has successfully made the step up from the 3m springboard to the 27m platfrom. Photo: Romina Amato/Red Bull Content Pool.

Four stops over the last two seasons later, the 31-year-old performed best of those who hadn't already qualified at the FINA High Diving World Cup in November – finishing in third place – to earn an automatic promotion to the 10-man permanent line-up for the 2019 season.

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