LATER this week, 24 of the top cliff divers in the world will descend on the Philippines to take part in the first leg of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in El Nido, Palawan.
Making its Philippine debut, the first leg will take place at the Small and Big Lagoon in Miniloc Island in El Nido. It is the first of what is a seven-stop global tour.
Among those competing are Orlando Duque of Colombia, Rhiannan Iffland and Xantheia Pennisi of Australia, who all expressed excitement over competing in the Philippines for the first time in the Red Bull series.
All three took time to meet members of the Philippine national diving team on April 4, where they got to share some tips on diving and thoughts on the upcoming event in Palawan.
“I’m looking forward to taking in the atmosphere and really enjoying the hospitality from the people of Palawan because it’s not my first time diving here in El Nido. Two years ago I was on holidays, and I remember taking a boat cruise across the lagoons and thought wow this is just so picturesque, it’s the perfect place to high dive and to cliff dive,” said Ms. Iffland, a three-time Red Bull series winner in the women’s division when asked by BusinessWorld for her thoughts on the first leg.
Adding, “When I saw that the Philippines was on the schedule for this year, I went ‘Yoohoo!’ I don’t really set much of a game plan, and it’s one of the best parts of the sport. It always feels fresh, and that makes it an all the more rewarding ending.”
For Mr. Duque, a two-time Guinness World Record holder and nine-time Red Bull series winner, he does not see unfamiliarity to be much of an issue for him as he takes the cliffs of Palawan for the first time.
“We’re kinda used to having to adapt in different conditions, which is probably one of the key elements of the sport. You have to adapt to everything pretty quick and I think that’s what makes the sport/competition that exciting,” he said in a separate interview.
Of Filipino descent, Ms. Pennisi, for her part, said to have the series pass through the Philippines gives it more significance for her.
“Now that the competition is here in the Philippines, my whole family is going to be watching me and I’m just really excited to be the first diver of Filipino descent to be in this competition. It’s going to be my first time jumping off a cliff surface, so the game plan is to play it safe, and enjoy the location because I’ve never been to El Nido before,” she said.
The three divers went on to say that Filipinos should watch the Red Bull series as they can expect top-level action in a highly conducive and fitting setting.
“[Filipino should watch] Simply because it’s the perfect location to showcase our sport, and there’s going to be a lot of excitement, and 24 of the best cliff divers in the world is going to be there in El Nido, Palawan, to show off their skills,” said Ms. Iffland.
After the Philippines, the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series will have stops in Dublin, Ireland (May 12); Polignano a Mare, Italy (June 2); Sao Miguel, Azores, Portugal (June 22); Beirut, Lebanon (July 14); Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Aug. 24); and Bilbao, Spain (Sept. 14).
Viewers in the Philippines may also watch the full event, along with the remaining six stops of the 2019 World Series on S+A and iWant Sports (iwant.ph), 5PLUS and 5plus.com.ph, FOX Sports, FOX Sports GO, FOX+ app, and online at http://www.foxsports.ph. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo