Great Britain’s High Divers stepped onto the podium in both the men’s and women’s events at the 2019 World Championships as Gary Hunt struck gold and Jessica Macaulay bronze after a thrilling three days of competition at Chosun University.
2015 World Champion Hunt has enjoyed a brilliant 2019 so far, with success in the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, in which he is a seven times series champion, however he made a slow start to the competition in Gwangju. After day one Hunt sat fourth, knowing he’d need two quality dives if he were to grab a podium place.
Two years ago in Budapest Hunt was in the opposite position, leading after the first day, so was disappointed to leave empty handed. This time though there was no holding him back. A great third round dive moved him up into the bronze medal position and so it was still all to play for.
In the final round, a stunning 156.00 point final dive Back 3 Somersaults 4 Twists (5268D) saw him move from third to first, an unbelievable comeback.
Afterwards, 35 year old Hunt said:
“I learnt from Budapest where I left my hardest dive until last and I crumbled under the pressure. But I’ve learnt from my mistakes and I put a dive that I know I can do well under pressure in that last round. I woke up hungry today and felt like I had nothing to lose and all to play for.
“It means a big deal. I’ve had a great season this year. It’s not good to be known as somebody who crumbles under pressure and my first two rounds weren’t good and I thought it might slip away from me, but I showed that you’ve got to keep fighting until the end.”
The previous day Jessica Macaulay capped her World Championship debut with a medal as she finished third in the Women’s event, contested from the 20m platform.
Like Hunt, Macaulay has been enjoying a great season on the cliff diving circuit, transferring that to a pool environment to bag bronze in Gwangju. In a closely fought contest, the top three were separated by less than three points, Macaulay producing a beautiful Reverse 3 Somersaults Tuck (306C) to add 85.80 points to her tally.
“I’m super happy. I had my eye on gold but in the end I’m super proud of myself – I trained really hard and to come third among these amazing women is an incredible feeling. This is the first World Championships I’ve been to and it’s the first tank pool I’ve dived in - it’s an amazing facility.
“I was recently competing in Lebanon where we had to worry about the waves and it did affect me coming into this competition. I felt scared doing my optionals and when I was practicing I felt a little bit of fear, so to be able to regain my confidence for the competition was great.
“The past three days I’ve been trying to prepare my mindset to win gold, so coming third gives me that fire for the future.”