With nine world championship titles and two Guinness world records to his name, Colombian cliff diver Orlando Duque has proved his tremendous ability time and again from 27 metres, reaching the very pinnacle of his sport over the last 15 years.
The 38-year-old returned in 2012 determined to make up for lost time after a season-ending injury in 2011 and came within inches of regaining the World Series title, missing out only after the last dive in Oman having led the standings for the majority of the year and proving that he still has what it takes to compete at the top.
Desperate to regain the World Series crown he relinquished to Gary Hunt in 2010, Orlando began the 2011 season in excellent form, winning both of the first two competitions, before a broken ankle sustained in an unfortunate skydiving accident cut short his season.
The Colombian, who now resides in Laie, in Hawaii, was determined to come back better than ever and so he did. The former champion's focus is now on learning new dives in a bid to increase his Degree Of Difficulty and stay at the top of a sport that is rapidly-evolving.
After more than a decade of Olympic diving, Orlando made the transition to what he calls “the more natural form of diving” in the mid-90s. Duque’s high diving career began in Europe where he improved his diving skills, helped at the time by coach Ken Grove, a former Olympic diver and now a World Series judge.
In his first world championships in 1999, he took second place and so began a hugely successful cliff diving career, the highlight of which saw him become the first World Series Champion at the Series final in Athens, Greece, in September 2009.
"My highlight of 2012 was definitely the first competition in France; honestly, I just wanted to not embarrass myself and to see if I could handle it again. To win there on my first competition back was unbelievable."