Interview with Cliff Diver Orlando Duque

The world`s best cliff diver Orlando Duque was in Hamburg, Germany to promote the Red Bull Cliff Diving Series 2009. FUNSPORTING chief editor Sascha Jurek met him for an interview.

Orlando Duque.  Copyright: Agustin Munoz/Red Bull What would you be today if not the world’s best cliff diver?
Orlando Duque: I was studying to be an engineer, but I don’t think I would have finished that. Later I wanted to be a cop or a firefighter, so maybe one of those two. But the choice I made, to become a cliff diver, was right. I used to be a very good pool diver, but I had that little chance and I took it. And I continued preparing myself, and that's why I was able to compete later on and then gain titles.

Where do you see yourself I ten years?
Orlando Duque: For sure I’m not going be competing, although we have a diver in the series that is 44 years old. I want to get into event management or stuff like that. I don't think I can go back to an office. I spent 25 years of my life outdoors. So I think something that has to do with sports and outside that might be my choice.

Can you describe the moment just a few seconds before you jump?
Orlando Duque: I’m fully focussed on the dive – one hundred percent I’m thinking about what I am about to do. My mind is concentrating on a good take off, because I know if I have a good take of, I know I’m going to have a good dive.

Do you do any mental training for that?
Orlando Duque: The mental training is like the physical training, done way before. The whole year you train your body for the dive and mentally you see the dive, you visualize everything. But this mental preparation goes 'till like the last minute, and after that you fully focus on what’s happening now. Everything is really calm then. All the nervousness is already gone. 

Orlando Duque.  Copyright: Bavo Swijgers/Red Bull What role does the feeling of fear play?
Orlando Duque: I think that the feeling of fear is important for me, because it keeps me focused, it keeps me going through the right steps. I have to go through step 1, then step 2, then step 3 to have a good dive. So it helps me get focused to have a more successful dive.

What do you do the whole year to keep your body fit?
Orlando Duque: The physical training is like the long part of the process. I do a lot of running, biking, I do strength exercises for my legs, stretching and of course in the pool the more specific water training to keep the diving technique. 

Have you ever been injured?
Orlando Duque: In 2002 I broke my tailbone. I over-rotated in one of my dives and landed almost like sitting.

Which one was the scariest dive that you ever did?
When we were filming “Nine Dive”, my movie, I did a dive in a waterfall in the south of Austria. It was difficult, not because it was very high, the height was only about 22 metres, but the area where I had to land was very small and I had to jump very far to get there. So everything had to be calculated perfectly. That was probably one of the scariest I have done.
And then the highest that I have ever done was from a bridge in Italy. It was 34 metres. There you just have to make sure you do everything right with the dive.

Where lies the most beautiful spot that you have ever dove?
Orlando Duque: In Hawaii we have very beautiful spots. I mean, I live there and I get to see a lot of that there. But in Italy there are great places at the Amalfi coast. In Capri, there is that beautiful cave, beautiful water, nice rocks. I’ve been lucky that I can travel to that many places. So if I had to pick a favourite, it would probably be Hawaii and Italy.

What do you think was the greatest success in your entire life?
Orlando Duque: In my sporting career I think that my greatest success is when I won my first world championship in 2000. I scored a perfect 10 from the seven judges. It was my first world championship and the ten is the highest score you can get for a single dive, so I really remember that.

What is “pure luxury” for you?
Orlando Duque: You know I’m a simple guy, I actually like simple things. A perfect day for me is to wake up, eat some good food, be able to dive at a really nice location and rest in the afternoon enjoying a drink. That would be luxury for me.

What is the best part of cliff diving?
Orlando Duque: I like it because it’s a simple sport. All we are doing is jumping into the water. We add fancy tricks and difficult twists, but it’s a simple thing. You can enjoy it even if you are just jumping. If you find a spot that is high enough and there is water down there you can already jump. When you're in the air, I love that feeling of falling. The speed, you see the water as you are falling down and you are really fast, I enjoy that!

Thank you very much!

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