With 13 world championship titles and two Guinness world records to his name, Colombian cliff diver Orlando Duque has proved his tremendous ability time and again from 27 metres, reaching the very pinnacle of his sport over the last 15 years. In 2013, in Barcelona, Duque became the winner of the first-ever FINA High Diving World Championship and despite turning 40 years of age in 2014 he continues to compete at the top of his discipline.
The veteran knows well the ups and downs of the sport of cliff diving. After a season-ending injury in 2011, Orlando, who, when he is not competing, divides his time between Colombia and Hawaii, was determined to come back better than ever and so he did in 2012, coming agonisingly close to beating champion Gary Hunt to the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series title at the final stop in Oman. Orlando's focus is now on learning new dives in a bid to increase his Degree of Difficulty and stay at the top of a sport that is rapidly-evolving.
After more than a decade of Olympic diving, Orlando made the transition to what he calls "the more natural form of diving" in the mid-90s. Duque's high diving career began in Europe where he improved his diving skills, helped at the time by coach Ken Grove, a former Olympic diver himself and now a World Series judge. In his first world championships in 1999, Duque took second place and so began a hugely successful cliff diving career, the highlight of which saw him become the first Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series champion at the final in Greece, in September 2009.
"To know that when they look at the records my name will be there first is important."