Hunt likes being the one hunted
Briton returns to capital to defend diving title and he relishes challenge
ABU DHABI // Gary Hunt returns to the venue where he won gold to kick off a successful season 12 months ago.
The Briton prepares for the Abu Dhabi leg of the Fina High Board Diving World Cup, to be held today and tomorrow at Yas Marina, knowing full well how difficult it is to defend one’s crown.
“Definitely there’s more pressure being the champion, but that’s something that I enjoy and like to feel – that other people are chasing me,” Hunt said during the launch ceremony at the Crowne Plaza hotel on Yas Island yesterday.
“This gives me more motivation to stay on top. It is always more difficult to stay on top than to chase the leader, and I love that challenge.”
Over the years, the 2015 Fina Best Male High Diver of the Year has developed a reputa- tion for performing complex dives. He provided some insight into how he has gone about dominating his field.
“It is difficult to think about the position you are lying in, the results and others’ performance,” said Hunt, 32. “At the edge of the platform, I’m thinking just about diving and the way you can better it.”
Even when he is not competing, Hunt has learnt to focus just on himself. “When I’m training in the off season, I’m not training to beat the other divers,” he said. “I know my body, I know my potential. If I feel like I can improve and reach the potential that I have, I feel very gratified to be on top of the podium.
“The driving force that keeps me training is just to improve and keep learning. It’s a personal goal of any athlete, to perform at the biggest stage.”
It is that mental toughness that gives him the edge over his peers.
“As a young diver, I didn’t have the very high level,” he said. “My friends had a very high level and I had to push myself to keep up with them.
“I would try to put myself in difficult situations and try dives I wasn’t really capable of. I made lots of mistakes when I was younger but I just kept going.”
Another useful quality Hunt has, as he puts it, is “spatial awareness”.
“For some reason, when I get lost in the air, I know how to find my way and land back on my feet again just through my training,” he said. “So, it gives me lot of confidence when I’m on the board.
“In this sport confidence is everything.” Another notable name competing in Abu Dhabi over the weekend is Canada’s Lysanne Richard, who will be defending the women’s crown.
It is always more difficult to stay on top than to chase the leader, and I love that challenge Gary Hunt Defending champion of the Abu Dhabi Fina High Board Diving World Cup