PLYMOUTH’S Aidan Heslop claimed runners-up spot in the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, finishing just behind his idol Gary Hunt.
The duo, along with Romania’s Catalin Preda, all went into the final stop in Sydney, Australia, knowing they could all still win the world crown.
But, in a thrilling showdown to the season, Hunt scored 10s with his final dive to earn a record-extending 10th world title in front of 18,000 spectators.
He won the final leg with 458.15 points, with Heslop taking second with 434.60 points and Preda scoring 429.95 points. That was also the final order in the overall season.
Hunt is 18 years Heslop’s senior and he admitted the 20-year-old Plymothian had put him under real pressure this season.
“This year starting off watching all the young guns with these massive dives, I kind of felt in the shadow and it showed in the results,” said Hunt. “I felt like I had to rebuild my confidence and restart. I managed to get there in the end.
“I couldn’t have hoped for anything better. A really tight season and finishing that on top. It’s going to take me a while to realise that.”
In just his first season as a permanent diver on the series, Heslop defied his tender age and exceeded all expectations to send a clear signal to the cliff diving world that he’s next in line to the throne.
Heslop, who also competed at this summer’s Commonwealth Games, ended up with two victories and three podium places, including his second place in Sydney Harbour on Saturday.
“To be this close to the top is incredible,” said Heslop, who had hoped he might have been able to sneek the title on the final weekend.
Heslop had set his heart on high diving at the age of just 10 after watching a video of Hunt competing.
“When I saw the video of Gary doing a new dive in one of his competitions, I was hooked,” said Heslop.
Over the years he has put a lot of work to follow Hunt and become one of the world’s top high divers and he will have his eyes on going one better next year and finishing top of the podium.