635 days ago the Red Bull Cliff Diving athletes made their final leaps of the 2019 season from La Salve Bridge in Bilbao. Little did they know back then that almost two years would pass before they gathered to compete from up to 27m once again. Now, finally, they'll get their chance to dive this weekend in the south of France and we can't wait.
Here are five reasons to tune in to the highly-anticipated return of cliff diving.
1. Gary Hunt is representing France
Yes, that's right, the 'brilliant Brit' is now the 'flying Frenchman'. After notching up a record eight World Series titles and countless renditions of God Save the Queen, it will be La Marseillaise ringing out around the stunning cliffs of Cap Dramont if Gary Hunt reels off another victory this weekend.
The Paris resident, who recently gained dual nationality, has been training with the French diving team since 2014 and took the decision during the extended break to switch competitive allegiance. What a start to this new era of his career it will be if he claims victory in his first appearance as a Frenchman... in France.
2. Rhiannan's on a roll
The last time we saw Rhiannan Iffland in action from the 21m platform, she was emerging from Bilbao's River Nervión having just completed the first-ever 'perfect season' in World Series history. Seven wins out of seven in 2019 elevated the unstoppable Aussie to legendary status in the sport of cliff diving.
Who'd bet against the winning streak continuing this weekend?
3. Popovici: pretender or contender?
A relative latecomer to the world of cliff diving, 32-year-old Constantin Popovici only made his first appearance in the World Series in 2018. Some strong wildcard showings earned him a permanent spot the following season and he stunned everyone by not only scoring two victories but executing only the second-ever perfect dive [five 10s from the judges] in the sport.
A freak foot injury robbed the Romanian of three appearances in the middle of the season, meaning we never got the chance to see if he could mount a serious challenge for the title. This year, Hunt will be aware of the threat and we could well witness a thrilling tussle for the King Kahekili trophy.
4. First time in France for the women
The World Series made its debut in La Rochelle back in 2009 and since then six more competitions have been played out in France. But none have yet featured the women. This year, the 21m platform will sit proudly below the men's 27m perch as the women prepare to display their skills in this country for the first time.
"It's gonna be nice to show the French people what the ladies have got," Iffland said excitedly upon her arrival at the location this week.
5. A chance for the chasing pack?
Following such a long break, this could prove to be a perfect opportunity for one of the chasing pack to challenge the sport's big names. Right now, high diving still isn't something you can practise at your local pool. It's a specialised sport, with very limited opportunities to train from the required heights and any hint of rustiness from the top athletes might help to level the playing field, as well as open the door for a surprise winner.
Watch the 52-minute season preview in the video below.
2021 season preview