ZHAOQING, Southern China, May 25 (Xinhua) -- Three-time World Cup champion Gary Hunt of Britain and 2017 winner Adriana Jimenez of Mexico lived up to their reputation, leading after two rounds on the opening day of the FINA High Diving World Cup 2019 here on Saturday.
Despite the drizzle, hot favorite Hunt overcame a minor mistake in his first dive to come from behind with his trademark dive 5167D (forward 3 somersaults 3 1/2 twists) for a day-high score of 132.30 points in the second dive. He collected a total of 193.90 after two dives.
Alessandro de Rose of Italy sits second with 187.05 points, and Michal Navratil of Czech Republic is third with 183.75 points. Constantin Popovici of Romania, runner-up last year in Abu Dhabi, showed the most difficult dive (armstand back 3 1/2 somersault 2 twists) and came to fourth with 176.40 points.
Hunt said that he enjoyed competing in the fixed high dive venue since the World Cup is being held at Yingxiong High Diving Center, the first-ever permanent facility for high diving in the world. The structure was designed and built by former Chinese diver Mr. Feng Yingxiong.
"These are the best conditions we've ever had in high diving. You got all the platforms to work up to 27 meters high. The rain is very small and it doesn't make a big difference. There is no wind up there, so it feels good. Apart from the rain, it's perfect conditions. I feel great," Hunt said.
"I made a small mistake in the first dive and I was sure that I could make up in the second round. I did it. I've been doing this stuff for eight or nine years now and I will try to do my best tomorrow," the defending champion added.
The competition of women's 20m competition saw a three-women battle as Adriana Jimenez, winner of 2017 World Cup and runner-up at Budapest World Championships, edged the reigning world champion Rhiannan Iffland of Australia and Jacqueline Valente of Brazil by 0.55 point after two dives.
Jimenez enjoyed a high flying start in her first dive 5154B (forward 2 1/2 somersaults 2 twists) for 66.30 and 206B (back 3 somersaults) with 96 for a lead of 162.30. Iffland grabbed 65 points for her 312C (reverse flying 1 somersault) , 96.75 for 5264B (back 3 somersaults 2 twists) and posted a total of 161.75. Valente also had a consistent performance and collected exactly same scores with Iffland in each dive.
"We really appreciate the permanent facility here and are so grateful, because we don't have these facilities at home. There is a lot of risk in high diving, but I really enjoy the moment of flying. The most important thing is to enjoy the competition," said the 34-year-old Mexican.
Ginger Humber, 44, the eldest female diver in the Zhaoqing World Cup, was glad to witness the young generation pushing the sport stronger and higher. Humber finished 11th with 123.30.
"I feel like I'm sort of winding down in my career because I'm watching these young girls come up and they're starting to push the sport to a new level. They can move the sport even more towards the right direction. I really believe that people will get to know more about the sport with this permanent facility. It is an exposure for watching and learning and seeing how safe it is," said the American.
A total of 43 high divers from 18 federations compete in the annual World Cup.