High diving will be one of the most spectacular disciplines of the 2017 FINA World Championships from 28 to 30 July in a very attractive environment on the banks of the Danube river, right in front of the Hungarian Parliament Building. The favourite of the men’s event will be defending champion Gary Hunt, but the living legend of this sport is still Columbian Orlando Duque, who won the gold medal at the 2013 FINA World in Barcelona. 42-year-old Duque is eager to achieve a good result in Budapest as well.
Jumping off a 10 meter platform already sounds quite scary for some, but how about doing it from a 27 meter one? That is exactly what competitors of the men’s high diving event do.
There are only a few world-class high divers in the world, since it is still a young sport, but Orlando Duque is definitely among them. The Columbian started his career as a diver, and tried some other sports as well, but he did not really like any of them, until he had the opportunity to try high diving.
"The sport chose me. I went around doing other things; I didn't like any of them. When I ended up diving, I was like 'this is it!'" (cliffdiving.redbull.com)
The Duke (his nickname) fall in love with this extreme sport, and decided to enter the inaugural 2009 season of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series. What’s more, he finished in first place overall! He has won three silver medals and one bronze medal since then, and 2016 was the first year when he did not stand on the podium in any of the competitions.
Duque has not only been a successful cliff diver, but he is also one of the best high divers in the world. He won the first ever gold medal in this sport at the 2013 World Aquatics Championships in Barcelona ahead of Gary Hunt and Jonathan Paredes. By the way, he has become the Mexican’s coach in the meantime…The gold in Barcelona was Columbia’s first medal in a FINA WC.
Duque could not repeat this great performance at the 2015 FINA World in Kazan, but his sixth place finish was still a good result as there were 20 participants compared to the 13 athletes of the 2013 event.
"My rivals are water and altitude, and I work hard every day to beat them." - he told deportivocali.co in 2013. What’s Duque got to do with the 9-time Columbian champion and two-time Libertadores Cup finalist football club? He has been a big fan of the team since his childhood, but he has had some other special activities as well.
He has appeared on the entertainment show 'Dancing with the Stars' in Colombia, he was featured in the film '9 Dives', in which he jumped off a bridge in Italy from a height of 34 metres, and he is an ambassador for 'Alas para Volar' [Wings to Fly], a charity that helps injured children.
His ambition is to compete at the 2017 FINA World Championships in Budapest, a little more than a month before his 43th birthday. He will not be the top favourite, but we can be sure that he will try to return to the podium after the 2013 event.
The men’s high diving competition will take place from 28 to 30 July on the famous Batthány Square in Budapest at the FINA World Championships.
Born: Cali (Columbia), 11 September, 1974
High diving, cliff diving:
World champion (2013 Barcelona)
Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series: gold medalist (2009); silver medalist (2010, 2012, 2015); bronze medalist (2013)