Cliff diver Aldridge eyes up better 2017 as he builds on tough year

Blake Aldridge of the UK dives from the 27 metre platform on the Saint Nicolas Tower during the first competition day of the fourth stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in La Rochelle, France on July 22, 2016. // Romina Amato/Red Bull Content Pool // P-20160722-04979 // Usage for editorial use only // Please go to www.redbullcontentpool.com for further information. //
Blake Aldridge of the UK dives from the 27 metre platform on the Saint Nicolas Tower during the first competition day of the fourth stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in La Rochelle, France on July 22, 2016. // Romina Amato/Red Bull Content Pool // P-20160722-04979 // Usage for editorial use only // Please go to www.redbullcontentpool.com for further information. //

The former partner of Tom Daley at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing is now one of the leading professional cliff divers in the world.

Since 2012 he has competed in the Red Bull Cliff Diving Red World Series at venues around the globe.

Sergio Guzman (L) of Mexico and Blake Aldridge of Mexico dives from the 28 metre platform during the eighth stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Shirahama, Japan on October 16, 2016. // Jason Halayko/Red Bull Content Pool // P-20161016-00530 // Usage for editorial use only // Please go to www.redbullcontentpool.com for further information. //

Sergio Guzman (L) of Mexico and Blake Aldridge of Mexico dives from the 28 metre platform during the eighth stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Shirahama, Japan on October 16, 2016. // Jason Halayko/Red Bull Content Pool // P-20161016-00530 // Usage for editorial use only // Please go to www.redbullcontentpool.com for further information. //

However last year he split up from his fiancé who had a miscarriage, and also suffered two serious high-diving accidents.

Alridge said: “I had two really bad accidents, but still managed to get on the podium. I went into the first Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series event of the year which was in Texas, USA in June low in confidence and mentally heartbroken.

“But I managed to finish second, just a few points behind the winner, Jonathan Paredes (Mexico). In fact I was leading right up to the last dive during which he got straight 10s.

“It really gave me a good boost and brought me back my belief.

“I wasn’t disappointed because a few years ago in 2013 in Cuba I pipped him to the post.”

Aldridge, 34, had a great time in July when he got to teach high diving with American celebrity DJ Steve Aokie.

In December Aokie stormed to number two the UK singles charts with former One Direction star Louis Tomlinson with a song called Just Hold On which they premiered in the final of the X-Factor.

The Horsham diver met the music star while doing a cliff diving exhibition in Ibiza.

He said: “Steve contacted me on Instagram and it led to us jumping off ten cliffs together in one day.

“The last one was from 19 metres and it was an amazing experience. I was really surprised by what he managed to achieve in one day with me.”

Aldridge had a sudden change in fortunes in the Red Bull event at La Rochelle in France in August when he had his first accident of the year while in third place after three rounds.

Performing one of the hardest dives ever undertaken, he hit the water hard and nearly bit off his tongue.

He had four stitches in his tongue and was treated for severe whiplash in his neck and torn shoulder ligaments.

Just four weeks later he competed in the next Red Bull event in Polignano, Italy.

Aldridge was forced to learn some easier dives and was pleased with the result, finishing 12th.

He said: “I didn’t mind losing as it was touch and go if I would be able to dive. I took the positives into my next event.”

In September the series moved to Pembrokeshire in Wales where, despite still battling with his injuries, he finished eighth.

In Wales he took part in an eye-catching promotional video, becoming the first person ever to dive off the ruins of Chepstow Castle.

Aldridge needed to record a top-five finish to book his place in the 2017 Series, he finished fourth in the next Red Bull event which was held in Japan in October.

He said: “It confirmed to myself that when the job needs to be done, I’m up for the fight!”

But adversity against struck later in October in the final event of the year in Dubai when Aldridge had his second accident.

Competing in the first ever night event, he got completely disorientated in the dark during his 28-metre dive and ended up in a heap in the water.

The result was damaged burst blood vessels in both lungs and severe brusing.

He said: “I was coughing up blood for a few days. I was so angry with myself and my misjudgement.”

Aldridge is now fully recovered and is currently in Sydney, Australia until February doing warm weather training.

He is putting the mixed fortunes of last year behind him and is keen to get back on the podium again in 2017.

On his return from Down Under he will continue his fitness work in the gym and spa at the Pavilions in the Park in Horsham, who sponsor him.

Aldridge added: “I’m fit and healthy and in good shape and am looking forward to a good, steady diving year with no accidents!”

Visit www.blakealdridge.com for the latest news and follow the diver on Instagram and Facebook.