Gary Hunt put on a performance when it really mattered and showed why he’s the world champion by taking gold in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
After dominating the first day of the FINA High Diving World Cup on Saturday, the Briton continued that form with two impressive dives.
That saw the 31-year-old sit top of the standings ahead of his final round.
He was under more pressure given his nearest rivals Jonathan Paredes and 2014 champion Orlando Duque overtook him, having taken their last jumps.
But Hunt remained calm from 27 metres high and his sequence of three forward somersaults and three-and-a-half twists was enough to seal his first World Cup triumph with a total of 639.30 points, 60.60 ahead of runner-up Paredes.
“It feels absolutely great to win the gold medal,” said Hunt.
“In the last two World Cups, I finished second and fourth so it’s an amazing feeling to finish first.
“To be honest, I was very nervous. I made a mistake in my fourth dive and I didn’t want that to happen again.
“But I stayed strong and believed in myself and luckily I pulled it off.
“It’s definitely a different feeling after I won gold in the World Championships in Kazan. This time around I was stronger and more confident.”
Given he was the last man to dive, Hunt knew what was required. But he didn’t pay too much attention to the other competitors, rather focusing on his own game.
“When I’m doing these competitions, I don’t really think about the other divers,” he said.
“They are the best in the world but it’s an individual sport.
“When you’re at the end of that platform, you’re not thinking about the rivals, but more about what you’re looking to do”.
Hunt will now be looking to keep the momentum going when he competes in the Red Bull Series opener in Texas in June.
For Paredes, it was exactly the same position he finished after the first two rounds on Saturday.
But the 26-year-old had no complaints about being defeated.
“Gary was the man to be beat going into the final rounds and he’s definitely a worthy champion,” said the Madrid resident.
“But saying that, I’m extremely happy how I did throughout the whole tournament in Abu Dhabi.
“It’s a really good competition with all the world’s best divers here so it’s never going to be easy to win any kind of medal.”
He added: “With that in mind, I’m super happy to win silver and start the year on a good note.”
Like Hunt, Parades’ next competitive appearance is in Texas and he is fully aware he needs to improve if he wants to go one step better.
“I have to keep training and keep doing my best,” he said.
“I have three months to train when I get home in Madrid and see how I can improve.”
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