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"...The second stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Mexico's Cenote Ik Kil witnessed four rounds of aerial artistry from a platform 27.25 metres high. Standing tallest of all at the end of the competition was one Orlando Duque..."
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TOUCHING THE VOID
Stop 2 of Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series 2011 goes to Orlando Duque (COL), Southampton's Gary Hunt finishes 2nd
In the green heart of the Yucatán jungle, Colombia’s Orlando Duque got a second victory under his belt. After winning the kick-off competition in Rapa Nui, the nine-time world champion once more performed outstandingly, receiving two 10s from the judges. The root-covered sacred well in the eco-archaeological park of Cenote Ik Kil, Mexico, was the stunning location for the second stop of the 2011 World Series on April 10, which inspired the world's high diving elite in a close fight for the podium. The World Series' most senior participant, Slava Polyeshchuk from Ukraine, took his first podium finish behind last year’s dominator Gary Hunt (GBR).
Tied after round one and tied after round two – the World Series champions in 2009 and 2010, Orlando Duque and Gary Hunt, battled hard in the first two heats. It was the reverse double somersault with four twists, which made the Colombian take the decisive lead in the third round. With two 10s from the judges, the highest score for a single dive (156.60pts) was once again awarded to the 36-year-old, paving the way for the second win out of two. “Last season was tough. I’d learned a couple of new dives, I had to struggle with them a little bit to make them work and get on the right side of the fine between missing the dive and doing really well. In pre-season, I focused a lot on quality and it looks like it’s paying off. I’m feeling a lot, lot better than last year. I’m happy, man,” says the Colombian who now leads the overall standings, eleven points ahead of reigning World Series champion Gary Hunt (29). The Englishman appeared more confident here in Mexico than at the first stop and finished second ahead of 44-year-old Slava Polyeshchuk. The veteran diver from Kiev (UKR) made for a new face on the podium as he very proudly paraded his trophy at the prize-giving ceremony. He succeeded in a tight battle for third place over Cyrille Oumedjkane by only 2.3 points. The Frenchman from Strasbourg performed well and claimed his highest ever World Series finish.
Gary Hunt (GBR)
I’m happy to be on the podium again but second place is not as good as first place. I felt in better shape and better form than in Rapa Nui so it’s going in the right direction. I know I’m going to return home now and train even harder. We’ve got five more stops left and I’ll give it my best shot to come back. Orlando’s not put a foot wrong and is diving really consistently.
Due to last-minute flight complications, Artem Silchenko from Russia was absent from this weekend’s competition and lost his second place in the overall standings. His position has been taken by the Brit Hunt, with the 27-year-old Russian falling back to sixth. Slava Polyeshchuk is now in third (24), followed by Cyrille Oumedjkane and Michal Navratil, both tied in fourth place (18).
27.25m of free fall from bright sunlight into a dark cave – located in the northern Yucatán Peninsula, the well of sacrifice was attributed mystical powers by the Maya. Just ten minutes north of Chichen Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a place listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, this impressive fresh water sinkhole overwhelmed the world’s twelve best high divers on their return to Cenote Ik Kil. Rookie diver Steven Lobue (USA), who impressed with a top-six finish in only his second World Series competition, was awe-struck: “It really is something special here. It’s very natural. It’s much more than I could have even imagined. Just amazing.”
For the next stop on May 22, the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series 2011 will touch down on European soil for the first time when it arrives in Athens, Greece.