Orlando Duque watches the divers France
© Romina Amato/Red Bull Cliff Diving
Cliff Diving

Orlando Duque's predictions for the cliff diving season opener

The legendary former Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series athlete offers up his opinions and insights during training in Saint-Raphaël.
Written by Chris Magill
Published on
Part of this story

Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series

Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series

France

Gary Hunt

FranceFrance

Rhiannan Iffland

AustraliaAustralia

David Colturi

United StatesUnited States

Oleksiy Prygorov

UkraineUkraine

Catalin Preda

RomaniaRomania

Maria Paula Quintero

ColombiaColombia

Constantin Popovici

RomaniaRomania

Jaki Valente

BrazilBrazil

Xantheia Pennisi

AustraliaAustralia
Orlando Duque may have retired from his legendary cliff diving career back in 2019, but he has no plans on stepping away from the sport he graced with style and success for over 20 years. Now working as the Red Bull Cliff Diving Ambassador, he will remain a familiar face at the World Series for the foreseeable future, where his wealth of wisdom and experience will continue to be of great value to the athletes, the media and the whole cliff diving crew.
At each Red Bull Cliff Diving stop this season, the sport’s ponytailed pioneer will offer up a selection of interesting insights, opinions and predictions before the diving gets underway. We caught up with him on training day at Saint-Raphaël in France, where he was keeping a close eye on the divers as they prepare to compete for the first time in almost two years. Here’s what he had to say.

First impressions

It was really good quality, some of the divers looked like they never stopped diving. The two champions [Gary Hunt and Rhiannan Iffland] looked strong, no surprise. The two Romanians [Constantin Popovici and Catalin Preda] looked like they’ve been training quite a lot.
David [Colturi] looked super strong. Super, super strong. He hasn’t done his big dives yet, but watching him it’s like ‘ok, this guy is serious’.
Xantheia [Pennisi] has been working quite a lot with Rhiannan in Australia. They have a nice cliff near where they live and she’s looking good.
It’s hard to tell. Training looked good, but the pressure of competition could change things a little bit.
David Colturi dives during the training day of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Saint-Raphaël, France on June 10, 2021.
David Colturi caught the Colombian legend's eye in training

Pure rocks could level the field

There’s the off-the-cliff dive that kind of levels the field a little bit. You see some of the guys making mistakes and trying to adjust to the situation. That’s where I saw Gary make a couple of mistakes, also David made a couple of mistakes there.

Wildcards to watch

There’s a Canadian girl, Molly [Carlson], she looks really good. Very focused, very concentrated, no problems. She has a 20m platform at her pool in Canada, so she’s been training. If she can keep that going in the competition, I’m sure she has a really good chance.
For the men, Oleksiy [Prygorov] was a permanent diver before, now he’s a wildcard, but he has one of the biggest dive lists of all the guys. You don’t know what’s gonna happen; if he hits his dives that’s it, he could win. He has everything he needs. So I think those two could be the interesting wildcards.
Molly Carlson prepares to dive during the training day of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Saint-Raphaël, France on June 10, 2021.
Newcomer Molly Carlson could be one to watch

Restrictions hard for ‘huggers’

The restrictions have affected people for sure. For example, Jaki [Valente] had to isolate for 10 days coming from Brazil and Maria Paula [Quintero] had to isolate for five days. That’s not something an athlete wants to do when arriving for a competition.
The rest of the procedures become routine. Tests, masks, distancing, that’s just routine now. Everyone’s really mindful of the situation. Normally we're really close to each other, we’re huggers you know, so it’s just not normal for us.
But it looks like everyone has kept their fitness training up and hopefully mentally they can put it together during the competition and have a good event.
Divers during the training day of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Saint-Raphaël, France on June 10, 2021.
Safely spaced apart and not a hug in sight

He did, of course he did

I couldn’t resist. I went out to the cliffs and did a 23m dive at the end of practice today. It felt really good. I like that connection with the rock, that connection with the dive, you know. It’s fun to watch the competition, but I kept looking at the rock and I was like ‘nah, I have to do a dive'.
I did go to the 27m platform but I looked down and I said ‘f*** no man, this is crazy, I’ll never jump from here again’. I guess it’s just a different mindset, you know. I’m not in that competition mode. The rocks though, it’s different. It wasn’t so high, it’s not on the main stage. I’ll probably go out and do one more tomorrow… and another one on Saturday!

Watch it live

This competition will be LIVE on June 12 from 12:30 GMT on Red Bull TV. Be sure to download the free Red Bull TV app and catch unmissable action on all your devices! Get the app here.
Part of this story

Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series

Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series

France

Gary Hunt

FranceFrance

Rhiannan Iffland

AustraliaAustralia

David Colturi

United StatesUnited States

Oleksiy Prygorov

UkraineUkraine

Catalin Preda

RomaniaRomania

Maria Paula Quintero

ColombiaColombia

Constantin Popovici

RomaniaRomania

Jaki Valente

BrazilBrazil

Xantheia Pennisi

AustraliaAustralia