Diver Blake Aldridge has shown himself he has what it takes to reach the very top by battling through the pain barrier to achieve his best season to date.
The 33-year-old, from Horsham, plummeted in fine style to a finish fourth overall in the 2015 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series.
This was despite a knee and meniscus ligament injury midway through the season threatening to drown his fine start to the campaign.
He was sitting pretty midway through the series having achieved silver medals in France and Denmark, either side of a fourth-place finish in the opening round in Columbia and a fifth in America.
Having reached the dizzy heights of second in the standings as well as laying claim to a new dive - the world’s most difficult - a reverse double somersault with five twists - the sky looked the limit.
But after competing in Denmark, Aldridge suffered an injury in a non-Red Bull event in Italy. Despite this, and competing in the next two tour stops with no training or practice he went on to seal his best-ever finish, capped by a brilliant third in the final meeting Spain.
Aldridge said: “It’s been the longest year that I have ever had. I got three podiums in total with two silvers and one bronze medal to get fourth overall out of the whole tour.
“The best I had managed before was top-eight, I have finished eighth a couple of times.
“There is a nominal annoyance that I missed out on third overall, but it’s been a tough season. I started fantastic, but got injured halfway through, but I managed to keep up with the pack.
“I managed to come back from it and get a podium and pre-qualify for next year which is really important.
“There were a couple of really tough events where I could not train beforehand (after the injury) so I had to dive the events cold with no practise.
“There were three competitions like that so it is testament to my mental strength to get up there, dive and get the results. It shows I have got the nitty gritty and fight to get on with it after this year.”
With a heavily bandaged and supported leg, Aldridge managed a sixth in Portugal, a disappointing tenth in Bosnia and Herzegovina and sixth in Italy. This was all with limited training before his final podium finish in Spain.
Aldridge, formally an Olympic partner of Tom Daley, added: “I knew my knee was in a pretty bad way, but I managed to get into the Horsham Pavilions and strength it up which definitely helped me get back to diving well.
“I am just really happy that I managed to finish the tour and be as successful as it was. It also shows what I could achieve when I am fully fit and if I was not injured imagine where I could be. So it’s been a really positive year.”
The diver left for Indonesia earlier this week where he is filming a documentary with Red Bull with six other divers and their own riggers (to set up the platforms) over seven days. They will be finding their own locations around the islands to dive, fish and scuba dive.
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