Muscat: For 14 world class divers it was a race to the top while hundreds of Oman resident soaked in a carnival-like atmosphere while enjoying the breathtaking cliff diving at the at the scenic Wadi Shaab, about 110-km east to Muscat, on Thursday.
Britain’s Gary Hunt won the seventh and final round and claimed the 2012 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series championship. It was a hard-fought victory for the former Commonwealth Games bronze medallist as he edged out close rival Columbian Orlando Duque by just two points.
A DJ entertained the crowds with different genres of music. And people occupied every available vacant spot, including the top of cliffs at the wadi which leads up to one of the most spectacular keyhole caves in Oman.
The prospect of watching thrilling dives in the still waters of Wadi Shaab was so attractive that spectators began arriving three hours ahead of the event. It was an half-an-hour trudge through the pebble-ridden wadi but fans braved the high temperature and the arduous walk to cheer divers from across the globe.
Youngsters from the nearby Tiwi village also entertained spectators by plunging from different cliff-tops, giving security personnel a tough time to control the enthusiastic youngsters.
Hunt hit his trademark triple quad to secure a total of 506.85 points in the competition. The 28-year-old Englishman described it as the best competition he had ever participated in. Divers like Duque and Colturi stayed close on his heels in the seventh and final stop of the season.
For the defending champion (Hunt), it was title number three, but he confessed that it was a nervous wait for the final score.
“This year has been the hardest without a doubt. It felt like everyone was on top of their game and you had to be diving really well to win it,” Hunt said after his triumph.
“Waiting for the score was one of the most nerve-wracking times of my life,” he said.
“ I saw that it was another amazing dive from Orlando and then saw the scores but those few seconds were really nerve-wracking,” he admitted.
In seven stops across Europe, North America and the Middle East, the world’s best cliff divers have raised the bar with some incredible performances in 2012 and Colturi joins Gary Hunt, Orlando Duque, fellow American Steven LoBue and Russian Artem Silchenko in qualifying automatically for next season.