High Diving, Day 1: Pure adrenalin in the port of Barcelona!
After many months of expectation, the first competition of High Diving in the history of the FINA World Championships finally took place today at the Moll de la Fusta, in Barcelona (ESP). Thirteen of the most experienced and successful athletes of the world took the plunge off the 27m platform, constructed for this special occasion in the port of the Catalan capital, where the open water events were also held in the first week of FINA’s major showcase.
In this historical moment, the first two rounds of dives (this men’s final will be concluded on July 31, with three more rounds), were an impressive display of courage, talent and determination. The event was witnessed by many thousands of spectators, who amassed in this beautiful scenario to admire one of the world's most spectacular and challenging sports.
When the first diver executed his DD (degree of difficulty) 3.8 dive – in these first two rounds, the inaugural combination was limited to a DD of 3.8, while the second attempt could not go higher than a DD of 4.1 –, the crowd enthusiastically applauded Jorge Ferzuli from Mexico, whose name will remain in the history books as the first of the first at a FINA World Championships.
Going into Wednesday’s final rounds, the rankings of day 1 were Orlando Duque (COL) in first, followed by Russia’s Artem Silchenko and Mexico’s Jonathan Paredes. But this was almost the least important in an unforgettable session, on a bright and sunny day, inviting the population of Barcelona to cheer these diving Icarus.
Duque, the provisional leader, offered his first impressions: "The platform is great, the visibility is great, all the divers are doing really good. I'm leading but it's really tight on the first three places. I had to stay concentrated, Wednesday is going to be a new whole game. We're going to start doing optional dives so the DD is going to be really high and this is where it's going to count a lot more."
Being one of the most experienced divers of the field, the Colombian star has necessarily his assets for the final: "For the final I have a Reverse Flying Somersault, which is the required dive I will have to do and then I have a Reverse Twist that yesterday I was working really good in practice so I hope to do it like that, the judges said it was looking good for a high score and then a Back with 3 Twists, that's the highest DD that I do, I hope that works well to and knowing these guys I know it's going to be a tough competition but that's what makes a good event better."
Very first High Diving appearance at a FINA World Championships - credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia
From the Mexican side, Jonathan Paredes, 23 years old, also enjoyed a lot the competition. “It was great! This is a unique scenario, with so many people watching and cheering for us. I feel a great emotion to be here, at a World Championships. I dived quite well and I feel very relaxed for the final on Wednesday. Until then, I will watch some swimming tonight and tomorrow I will do some shopping in Barcelona”, said Paredes. Asked about his passion for High Diving, the Mexican great replied: “At 15, I was still combining pool and high diving, but at 17 I definitively took the option for High Diving. I love being at the top of the platform, standing and then feel all that adrenalin and finally dive”, he added.
His parents, especially his mother, do not think the same: “They've always supported me but they never came to watch a live competition. I think that my mother would faint to see me diving from so high…”, he joked. Finally, on his rituals before the competition, Paredes said: “I just warm my body and as I am very religious I pray. Then, He normally helps me."
Gary Hunt from Great Britain, fourth after this first day, was visibly satisfied to meet the media after his effort. “We are preparing for this moment since we started diving. I have the chance of being still active but many of my friends just missed the first World Championships as they retired… This is a very demanding sport, as there are not many facilities where you can train from this height. There is one in Austria and another one in Chiapas, Mexico, so it’s difficult to replicate the real competition conditions”, he noted. On his performance, he remains confident: “I achieved my goal today: I did two steady dives, I am not far from the podium and Wednesday everything can happen as the notes will be very high with our DDs. I can perfectly recover, as I am used to perform very complicated dives. Orlando is definitively very strong. He's been in the circuit for many years, nothing can shake him”.
Anatolii Shabotenko (UKR) - credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia
Sometimes considered as “crazy” people for their courage – David Boudia (USA), the silver medallist in the pool’s 10m platform even said “that one must be totally out of his mind to do that” – Hunt explains: “It’s normal they say that. What they maybe don’t know is that you don’t go from the 10m directly to the 27m. It took me one year to dive from 18m, then another year to reach the 22-23m, and finally another year to dominate the dives at 26-27m. Everything is done in a progressive way, getting higher and higher, but in a calculated way."
Commenting the dives for the spectators present in the port of Barcelona, Fernando Platas, from Mexico, Olympic medallist in pool diving and FINA Athletes Commission member, was thrilled with the show:
“It was simply incredible! The level of the divers was very good, even better than what we could expect. We thought that the sea water could be a bit hard for the divers, but they all felt very comfortable in these magnificent conditions”, considered Platas.
“Moreover, with this full house, all the conditions were set for a superb afternoon. We all look forward to watching the final rounds”, he concluded.
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