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Monday, May 23, 2011

The height of daring: World's bravest divers take the breath away with awe-inspiring leaps

By Oliver Pickup

-Brit wins event jumping from a staggering 27 metres - or 88.5 feet

Scared of heights? England's Gary Hunt dives 27 metres into Lake Vouliagmeni in the third event of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series

Here is a Red Bull-sponsored event where it really would be useful to have wings: The Cliff Diving World Series.

Southampton-born Gary Hunt - the reigning Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series champion - won the day, at Lake Vouliagmeni near Athens.

Yesterday was the 26-year-old's first success of the current season, and after winning four out of six events last year, Hunt has been the man to beat.

Scroll down to see a video of the breathtaking action from Greece

No turning back: Steven LoBue begins his dive at the Cliff Diving World Series event in Athens

Daring: An athlete dives during the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series over Lake Vouliagmeni

With his main rival, 2009 champion Orlando Duque, out of action with a broken ankle, the man from the south coast rose to the occasion and wowed the Greek crowd with a series of stunning dives from 27 metres - or 88.5 feet.

Colombian Duque, who injured himself during a sky dive recently, said: 'Right now is when I felt I was in the best stage of my career.

'After the accident I know it's going to be hard to get back to where I was.'

Daredevil: Alain Kohl of Luxembourg is shown flinging himself fearlessly from the Red Bull Cliff Diving platform in Athens

No turning back: Michal Navratil from Czechoslovakia leaps from the 27 metre-high platform (left) while Todor Spasov of Bulgaria (right) shows how high it is

Stylish: Hunt, 26, is watched by spectators who have scrambled up the cliffs to get a decent view

Grant did not mind that the 37-year-old was not in Greece and after finishing on the podium in all six events last year has proved himself a great competitor.

The daredevil said: 'I take care in every aspect of my life and I just want to give myself every chance of becoming the champion.'

And on his success at Lake Vouliagmeni, he added: 'I couldn't be happier.

'The first round yesterday did not start exactly how I had wanted. But I really got into the atmosphere today and it went perfectly.'

Don't look down: Bulgarian Todor Spasov drops down from the platform on Sunday

Going down: Two of the athletes perform their dives at the Cliff Diving World Series

On top of the world: Gary Hunt drops down the 88.5 feet into the waters at Lake Vouliagmeni

Champion: Hunt is congratulated by Artem Silchenko of Russia, who came second. The Brit - the 2010 series winner - moved to the top of the leaderboard after this third stage win

The win moved Hunt - who says his favourite dive is a Back 1.5 piked from 10 metres - to the top of the leaderboard after three rounds. It gave him 49, nine points ahead of Duque, who had won the first two rounds in Chile and Mexico.

Also joining Hunt, who was awarded 471.15 points, on the podium in Greece were Russian Artem Silchenko (447.10) and Michal Navratil from Czechoslovakia (421.31).

The next stop for the divers is La Rochelle in France on June 18 - and there are later fixtures in Malcesine, Italy, Boston in the US and finally Yalta in Ukraine.



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