The initial day of the High Diving competition at the 18th FINA World Championships in Gwangju, including the first two rounds of preliminaries for both men and women, brought different results for the reigning world champions. Steve LoBue (USA), winner in 2017, is the provisional leader, after excelling in his trademark dive, a front 5 somersaults, for which he got a massive 142.80 points from the judges. In the women’s event, Rhiannan Iffland (AUS), gold medallist two years old, is fifth. 

Being the only man in the field capable of executing this combination, LoBue managed to conclude the day with an encouraging advance over his main challengers. At this stage, they are Jonathan Paredes, from Mexico, who also performed a flawless front 4 somersaults 1 ½ twists, which received two perfect 10s from the judges. But as the DD was inferior (4.7, against 5.1 for LoBue), the score of the dive for Paredes was “only” of 133.95. The Mexican great was bronze medallist in 2013 and runner-up in 2015.

In third, Michal Navratil (CZE) is determined to replicate his 2017 performance, when he won silver on the shore of the Danube River in Budapest. He has, after these first two rounds, a total of 194.05, while LoBue leads with 218.40 and Paredes collected 209.55. 

2015 world champion Gary Hunt – winner of the FINA World Cup last May in China – is fourth for the moment, not having totally succeeded his front 3 somersaults with 3 ½ twists (117.60 points, for a total of 189.00). Alessandro de Rose (ITA), bronze medallist in Budapest 2017, is fifth in 187.50.  

The men’s competition proceeds this Wednesday, with the final two rounds of dives.  

Adriana Jimenez (MEX) - Photo by gettyimages

Jimenez leads

Silver medallist in Budapest 2017, and third in this year’s World Cup, Adriana Jimenez (MEX), is the provisional leader among the 13-women field, leading after two rounds in 148.20 points. The Mexican ace, winner of the 2017 World Cup did two very consistent dives, namely the second combination, a 306C (reverse 3 somersaults, tuck), for which she received marks between 7.0 and 8.5 from the judges. Being a DD 3.9 attempt, this obviously brought a lot of points – 93.60, the highest of the prelims – to Jimenez.

The defending world champion Rhiannan Iffland (AUS), also gold medallist at the FINA World Cup 2018, started the competition with the most successful dive – a reverse flying with 1 somersault, worth 66.30 -, but then lost control in the second combination (a back 3 somersaults, 2 twists) and missed the entry. She finished the two-round preliminary in fifth position, but is confident in a better outcome in the final two rounds of dives, this Tuesday in Gwangju.

“The place is cool and it’s nice to come back to a pool similar to what we knew from Budapest. It’s a nice experience for me. Today, it didn’t go so well for me as I expected, but tomorrow I’ll come back strong”, considered the Australian star. “I don’t present any new dive, as I feel comfortable with the ones I have. I’ll try to feel as confident as I can for the final rounds, that will be my strategy”, she concluded. 

From the side of Jimenez, things also look positive. “It went quite good. I had lost a bit the ‘taste’ of competing with this kind of pool, but the setting here in Gwangju is really nice! The atmosphere is great, and despite feeling a bit nervous, I managed to ‘close’ very well my dive”, admitted the Mexican champion. “For tomorrow, I’ll take one dive at the time. I don’t like to have many expectations. I like to dive on a serene way, not thinking about the overall result. Despite a minor injury in my back and a hernia, I can cope with that. This ‘job’ is hard and sometimes the body pays a high price for what we are doing”. Jimenez concluded by highlighting the presence of some new faces among the women competition: “It’s always good to bring new ‘blood’ to this world, especially new girls. We need to develop the sport, in order to fulfil one day the Olympic dream”. 

The top-3 among women so far in Gwangju, and besides Jimenez (148.20) in the lead, comprises Jessica Macaulay (USA, second in 145.90) and Genevieve Bradley (USA, third in 144.00).