August 05, 2015

KAZAN, Russia (AP) Standing on a platform high above the Kazanka River, Gary Hunt was desperate not to blow it this time.

He didn't.

Unlike two years ago at the last world championships, when a poor final dive from Hunt turned a 38-point lead into a 0.9-point deficit, and a gold medal into silver, the British diver held on to take the title on Wednesday.

''That stuck with me. I had to live with that for two years,'' he said of his 2013 defeat.

When readying for his last dive on Wednesday off the 27-meter (89-feet) board, ''I just told myself, `Don't do it again.'''

The last dive, a triple somersault with three-and-a-half twists, wasn't the best dive of the competition, but it didn't need to be. With a 33-point lead, avoiding disaster was what mattered.

Scoring 139.20 points on his last dive, with a slightly less than perfect entry into the water, Hunt took the gold medal with a total score of 629.30.

Jonathan Paredes of Mexico, who won bronze in 2013, was second on 596.45, while Artyom Silchenko of Russia pleased the home crowd with the bronze on 593.45.

Hunt's huge lead left his rivals feeling they were in a separate competition, Paredes said.

''This medal means a lot to me,'' he said. ''Today, we were not fighting for gold, we were fighting for the silver.''

U.S. diver David Colturi was in silver-medal position after the first three rounds, but slipped to fourth. Attempting the most difficult dive of any of the 12 finalists in the last round, he landed awkwardly and finished seven points behind Silchenko.

Defending champion Orlando Duque of Colombia was 11th after Monday's first three rounds, but finished sixth with the highest score of the final round, a 151.20-point dive.

High diving's second appearance at the world aquatics championships is a key showcase for a young but rapidly growing sport keen to follow in the footsteps of other extreme sports to have joined the Olympics in recent years.

After his win, Hunt predicted ''it's only a matter of time'' before high diving joins the Olympic program, but his optimism was not shared by Julio Maglione, president of FINA, the world aquatics federation that would need to propose high diving to the International Olympic Committee.

For high diving to join the Olympics, it needs to be practiced in more countries, perhaps as many as 90 or 100, he said. There were 12 countries represented in the men's field, and seven in the women's.

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