Russian aiming for cliff diving world title

Russia’s Artyom Silchenko submitted a strong cliff diving performance in Athens, finishing second during the third leg of the Cliff Diving World Championships to remain among the main contenders for the title.

­The race for the 2011 Cliff Diving title is wide open and the season could still take plenty of twists and turns, with a full summer of action ahead.

The third stop on the calendar saw competitors travel to the historic sporting city of Athens, considered the cradle of modern competition.

Nine-time World Champion Orlando Duque, however, can only watch as a broken ankle means he is out for the season.

That leaves reigning champion Gary Hunt to defend his title, with Russian Silchenko among the top contenders for that crown.

There were plenty of determined athletes, but only the top six could qualify for the final after three rounds.

It was real fun in the sun for over 9,000 spectators and plenty of chills and thrills for the competitors.

Michal Navratil chose a safer strategy, making a dive of medium difficulty in the final.

Flawless execution of that front triple somersault is what earned the Czech a third-place finish, for his first career podium.

2006 World Champion Silchenko did not compete at the previous stop in Mexico, but showed little rust on the day.

The Russian had no decrease in agility, despite wearing a knee brace, showing great concentration in the final.

A reverse triple somersault with three twists was the second most-difficult dive of the competition, reflecting the overall standing.

Gary Hunt however was a step ahead after executing the Triple Quad – considered the most difficult dive ever – in the early rounds.

The Englishman then went for his patented front quadruple somersault with one-and-a-half twists to take the honors.

Silchenko rises to fourth in the overall standings.

The injured Duque is set to drop from his second place as the season progresses. 27-year-old Silchenko remains humble as he trails overall leader Hunt by just 17 points, despite missing one event.

“I’m really happy because second place is not so bad. But I hope for more. I want to win because I won my first competition of the year. Gary won this time. He’s a great diver, but I’m not bad either. I showed beautiful dives today, but Gary… he was excellent,” Artyom Silchenko said.    

“I couldn’t be happier. The first round yesterday didn’t start exactly how I wanted. But I really got into the atmosphere of the competition today. And it went perfectly,” Gary Hunt commented.  

The trio enjoyed the taste of victory, with historic Olympic sights reminding them of the winners of centuries past.

But it is back to training soon, as the battle for the championship will take a much bigger stage next month.

Over 40,000 spectators are expected at France's La Rochelle harbor for the fourth leg of extreme daredevil action.

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