Canadian circus performer takes plunge to win Fina High Diving World Cup title
ABU DHABI // Lysanne Richard, was on top of the world Sunday after being crowned champion at the Fina High Diving World Cup for women, which was staged off the capital’s Corniche Breakwater.
The Canadian, who also performs in the circus, including appearances for the Cirque du Soleil, produced consistent performances from the 20-metre platform for a total score of 253.80 in three rounds.
It was a memorable win considering Richard, 34, almost walked away from diving earlier in her career. She stopped at the age of 14 at a time when she felt she was too young to compete at the Olympics.
“I was forced to give up for a while because of an ear infection,” she said.
“I switched to circus and did aquatics. Now I focus on diving but my family is my priority and diving is my second priority. And of course I’m ready for any kind of challenges, even the next Olympics. I’ve got three kids and can still wait for four years.”
Helena Merten (229.60) of Australia was second ahead of American Ginger Huber (209.85) from the 10 divers who had qualified for the final.
“This medal now goes right on top of my CV,” said Richard.
“I’m really happy to have won this competition. I know it wasn’t perfect and I still need to improve.
“This competition is really great with some great athletes and strong competition from start to end. It was very hard to separate anybody in every attempt and every effort. They are all improving all the time.”
Richard did not know if she had scored enough on her final dive to take the title but finished ahead of her closest challenger by 24.20 points when the results emerged on the screen.
“I really didn’t know if I had won,” she said.
“Even after my last dive, I was hoping I put on a good total. This is more about being proud of ourselves and showing what we can do. But I’m really thrilled to what I have done today.”
Meanwhile, the men return to action for the final three rounds today after two rounds on the 27m platform Sunday.
The leading quartet heading into the final day are Briton Gary Hunt, Jonathan Paredes, the Mexican (competing under the Fina flag), Russian Artem Silchenko, and Orlando Duque of Colombia.
Hunt tops the rankings after putting in two flawless dives for a total of 228.70.
“I dived the best I could dive and there are two other athletes who are a couple of points behind. That’s really incredible,” said the 2015 world champion.
“The level here is very high, as it is the first competition of the year.”
Paredes, silver medallist at the Aquatics World Championships in Kazan last year, is also determined to shine in Abu Dhabi. After an already solid first attempt, he scored two perfect 10s in his second combination, a forward three somersaults half twist, in the free position.
“After Kazan, this is the first Fina competition of the year, and we all have some pressure to perform well,” he said.
“In my case, I have a silver medal to defend and I hope that I cannot only repeat it, but who knows, still improve it. I will do the same programme as in Kazan, and I hope to continue serene and performing well.”
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