While it was the first time for the World Series' reigning female champion and current overall leader, Rhiannan Iffland from Australia, to dive from a waterfall, the natural beauty of Bosnia and Herzegovina has captivated the sport's legend Orlando Duque (COL) for almost 15 years since he first explored the country. The remote and spectacular waterfall in the 2008 established Una National Park kick started the business end of the 2017 season with only two stops left before the coronation of the champions at the end of October in a new location in Chile. At Stari Most, the old bridge in Mostar, Iffland can clinch the title, while everything is still wide-open in the men's most competitive season ever.
"It's great to explore the country before the event," says the 26-year-old Australian, "it takes off some pressure and it helps getting used to the chilly water." Situated on the boarder between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, Štrbački buk waterfall is the highest and most stunning waterfall in the Una National Park. Together with the waterfalls in Martin Brod, this place has recently been added to the tentative list of sites that are to be nominated for UNESCO's list of Natural World Heritage Sites.
Iffland leaps into the stunning waterfall as she prepares to dive for the women's title this weekend. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.
The women's record winner from 21m is well aware that there's a lot more than just the 13ºC cold water of the Neretva river to be expected from the competition in Mostar, where the first dives off the bridge date back more than 400 years.
"This town kind of lives for diving and lives for this bridge. I was honoured to be present at the reopening ceremony back in 2004 after it was destroyed during the war. I have a lot of respect for what the guys do here. They're diving daily and really keeping the tradition going," Colombia's Duque, a local hero for the people of Mostar, turns out a real fan of this place, "as soon as you walk in they know who we are, they know us by name, they know what we do. They're really excited; they always welcome us with open arms. You feel like coming home."
Duque dives as the waters cascade beautifully around him. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.
The 43-year-old athlete and his rivals will be displaying the cutting edge of modern-day cliff diving from a 27m platform in a spectacle expected to attract many thousands of local fans. Four different male winners in as many events and just two competitions to go – everything is still to play for when crucial championship points are up for grabs for Blake Aldridge and Gary Hunt, UK's leading duo, as well as Mexico's Jonathan Paredes and the US divers David Colturi and Andy Jones.
The cliff diving legend offers some advice to Iffland ahead of a crucial weekend for the young Australian. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.
In the women's, the reigning champion has a distinct lead in the current standings with a 170-point advantage over nearest rival Adriana Jimenez from Mexico and can secure her second title in front of a fanatical crowd of spectators this weekend.
Watch Live from Mostar
This event will be LIVE on September 16 from 14.30 local time (12.30 GMT) on www.redbullcliffdiving.com and Red Bull TV. Red Bull TV is available on connected TVs, gaming consoles, mobile devices and more. Find out more at about.redbull.tv