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Colombian dives to victory in Valle Maggia

Columbian Orlando Ducque dives somersaulting from a 26-meter high cliff to win the Brontallo cliff diving event Keystone

A Colombian has taken the gold medal in the cliff diving competition in the mountains of Ticino's Valle Maggia. Against a stunning backdrop, Orlando Ducque twisted and turned his way to victory at Brontallo from the giddying height of 26 metres.

This content was published on July 23, 2000 - 13:00

Coming in for second place in this weekend's daring competition was Australia's Steve Black, who won the Tour's opening stage in Dubrovnik two months ago,
followed closely by the world class American, Dustin Webster.

Berne's 27 year old Alex Andermatt - one of the youngest competitors on the world tour, and the only Swiss diver - failed to win a spot on the podium.

The Ticinese beauty spot is one of three locations chosen to stage the first ever world tour of this increasingly professional sport. Denounced as a pastime for lunatics when it first began, it involves diving from a cliff at heights of up to 28 metres, almost three times the size of the drop from the highest Olympic diving boards.

The athletes have approximately three seconds to coordinate their forms and movements before they hit the surface of the water at speeds of around 95 kilometres an hour. Most importantly they have to make sure their feet are pointing downwards at the moment of impact. It's been estimated that landing horizontally on water after a fall of 28 metres would have the same effect as landing on pavement from a height of 15 metres.

The skills required to avoid such a horrendous accident take at least ten years of training to acquire. For that reason there are only a handful of divers currently pursuing this exclusive and extreme sport worldwide.

by Mark Ledsom

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