Thursday 27 July 2017

'The potential in Ireland to be world class is there' - Irish divers train with insane jumps off 21m Howth cliff

Mark McConville and Sasha Brady

Ireland's rugged coast provides a formidable backdrop for some of the most thrilling cliff dives in the world.

Greg Mullen is part of a group of divers, Cliff Diving Ireland, who regularly take advantage of the spectacular jumps across the country.

"There's a group of us and we do cliff diving in Howth. I took up diving at the National Aquatic Centre five years ago just to do something really different," he told Independent.ie.

"I’m not very good but I enjoy it."

The group is made up of mostly novice divers, thrill-seekers who wanted to an adrenaline injection in their weekends, as well as those with a bit more experience.

Sergei from Ukraine is one of the best divers on the team, Greg praises his jumps as "spectacular".

Some of the Cliff Diving Ireland group have been training to compete in the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series but Greg wishes there were more diving facilities in Ireland to enable the potential contenders to compete at the highest level.

"Diving itself in Ireland needs more input for facilities, because the Red Bull Cliff Divers come from diving [backgrounds] and a lot of these countries have high diving boards everywhere. Whereas we have one in Dublin.

"So first of all we need the sport of diving to be put front and centre stage. Its an amazing sport and there are a lot of kids diving in the National Aquatic that are amazing at what they can do. "

Greg explained that some of the divers are as young as 9-years-old and have no fear when it comes to jumping from platforms as high as 10m.

"They’re so brave – 9, 10 12 years of age going off 10m platforms and 7m platforms and really putting themselves in danger and nobody knows about it," he said.

"The potential in Ireland to be world class divers is there you know. It just needs encouragement and people to promote the sport.

"One of the guys that was with us earlier, a young lad, he goes off the same height here at the pool in the Serpent’s Lair, the same level as the ladies 20m for Red Bull."

More than 1,500 people attended the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series on Inis Mór on June 14 and 25 and it was as spectacular as promised.

For cliff divers like Greg, it would be a dream come true to see the sport thrive in Ireland.

"It’s an absolutely thrilling sport and just to watch it… even going off 10m is daunting.

"So when those guys and girls go off that height, I have the utmost respect for them. If I could take Cristiano Ronaldo’s money from him and give it to them divers I would because they are actually brave. He plays football and he’s very good but I think [cliff divers] are the bravest sports people.

"Sergei is mad brave. We always say he’s insane but we mean it with a good heart."

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