When the cliff diving elite returns to Mostar’s historic Stari Most for the season’s penultimate stop on August 24, the stage looks set for more history to be added to this challenging location. After a sensational and record-breaking season so far for England’s Gary Hunt and Rhiannan Iffland from Australia, the reigning champions already have one hand on the King Kahekili Trophy and will wrap up the title with another strong display in the spot where diving dates back centuries. For those who seek qualification for the 2020 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series the battle gets tighter as only the top four from 21m and 27m earn an automatic spot.
Since Hunt scored the perfect dive in Beirut, Lebanon and became the first man ever to be awarded all tens from the judges since the introduction of the World Series in 2009, the expectations from the brilliant Brit have only gotten higher. The 35-year-old won the FINA High Diving World Championships in South Korea and can secure his 8th overall title when he targets a third consecutive victory in Mostar.
While former champion Jonathan Paredes (MEX), winner of the Mostar premiere in 2015, sits in a rather safe second place overall, America’s Andy Jones and Michal Navratil from the Czech Republic cannot miss out in Mostar, unless they want to give way to a strong quartet pursuing this all decisive fourth place.
Chasing them are American duo David Colturi and Steven LoBue, as well as Olympic bronze medallist Oleksiy Prygorov from the Ukraine, while there is still a slight chance for Romanian wildcard Catalin Preda who podiumed in his first ever World Series appearance from Stari Most in 2018. If fellow Romanian Constantin Popovici, who comes back to the 27m platform after injury, can pick up where he left off, he’ll again spice up the competition in the men’s.
It’s no less tight in the women’s when it comes to securing a spot for 2020. Behind the still unbeaten champion from the 21m platform Iffland, Belarussia’s Yana Nestsiarava and Brit Jessica Macaulay, as well as Lysanne Richard from Canada hold the top 4 spots going into the business end of the year.
Until now the 2019 season has been a perfect one for Australia’s cliff diving star Iffland, with victories in every single competition. Coming to Mostar however, the 27-year-old has unfinished business as she’s not managed a victory from the old bridge in two showings. Can she overcome the added challenges of diving from a bridge or will any of the other women jump in and claim the win?
All eyes will also be on US girl Eleanor Townsend Smart and the youngest-ever female diver Maria Paula Quintero. The Colombian has a 2nd place from Italy to her name and sits in seventh place behind her American competitor. With a strong appearance they can increase the pressure on the top four – for the day’s victory as well as the overall standings.
Dating back to the 17th century, competitive bridge diving has been a tradition for many years in Mostar, and when the cliff divers come back to the historic single span stone bridge the locals know all their names. 24 elite cliff divers – women and men – will dive for glory, points and eternity off the old bridge.