The atmosphere was tense on Tuesday with a large press presence to support the number of French divers on Tuesday’s Constant Weight No-Fins (CNF) Men’s competition.

Morgan Bourc’His (France) has taken the lead by achieving his target 91m depth to great applause from the press and the safety teams supporting the host country’s team.  The buzz was soon quashed when the second diver of the day was up. The golden suited Alexey Molchanov (Russia) attempted 91m to rival Morgan.  The dive proved too much and blacked out for a red card.

Next to hit the line was another World Champion, William Trubridge (New Zealand) who announced 89m and earnt a red card disqualification as he blacked out on the surface. Posting on Facebook, Trubridge examined why he failed to achieve his depth and concluded it was because of “An intense drop in temperature, combined with the stress of competing on a lurching setup that I’d never dived on or even seen before today, immediately after successful and unsuccessful dives for the gold medal.”

As soon as Morgan had finished his post-dive interviews with the press they disappeared and the platform felt empty.  There were many delays as divers were attended to by the onboard doctor post blackouts and a total of 17 red cards were issued for the day – nearly half the athletes.

The results from Day 2 were:

  1. Morgan Bourc’His (France) 91m – National Record
  2. Abdelatif Alouche (France) 83m
  3. Mateusz Malina (Poland) 80m

Full results are below:

AIDA Depth World Championships 2019 - Day Two CNF Results
AIDA Depth World Championships 2019 – Day Two CNF Results

The number of red cards was concerning and some divers headed for further medical attention, although the reports soon came back with news all are well.  DeeperBlue.com spoke to Carla Sue Hanson, AIDA President:

“There was way too much color this morning, I don’t like all these colored cards!  When I talked to Alexey and William they said that air temperature was cool and they were just cold.  William added it seemed like a stressful feeling for him and he could not get relaxed.  Alexey said he was cold.  Miguel Lozano had an underwater blackout too and he had to go to the hospital but he is fine.  I think everyone is alright now, I have a report.

Stig Pryds has been seen walking around so he is back and well.  I think it was a difficult morning.  Alexey Molchanov has said he would have done better for a later start due to the cold morning air.  It didn’t bother Morgan, solid white card for him!”

After the competition and the long deliberations of the judges considering the protests from athletes, there was a meeting for judges and athletes which got tensions running deeper.  This gathering gave athletes the chance to ask questions with organizer Claude Chapuis.  There was some shouting, strong opinions, and some disgruntled divers as they voiced their concerns and demanded explanations of the rules.  Nataliia Zharkova (Ukraine) was seen angrily leaving the meeting early after a confrontation with Chapuis where it is reported he told her that she should “change profession”.

DeeperBlue.com had an exclusive chat with the man in charge, Claude Chapuis: 

“Freediving is not an easy sport to organize or to judge.  Athletes should understand it is an outdoor sport and nothing is easy, it is not badminton.  They should be prepared through their training to avoid any problems with distraction.”

On top of the protests from the two days, an athlete has taken to social media to complain about the safety team run by Pierre Frolla and Claude Chapuis.

Claude continued:

“We have worked for more than 30 years in this bay. I can say, perhaps being too pretentious, that we built the safety rules and we improve our rules year after year.  Some strange freedivers they feel it necessary to comment on Facebook as opposed to coming to the event committee to discuss with judges and organizers, this is bad way to communicate.   There are different ways to save people and our safety team has been training for months for this.  The safety team do not all need to be deep divers, there are different levels. 

It has been demonstrated for several years the performance of the teams.  They may not be able to dive to every depth but that is why they work as a team.

As organizers it is our responsibility to maintain a safe standard for our divers, we do not condone repetitive deep dives in one day. All people that try and save people must maintain their own safe practices.  We want to educate the divers, you have seen their performances, the people arguing are the ones blacking out.”

In regards to the complaints from the athletes about the delays and suggested disorganization they are experiencing this championship affecting their performance Claude comments:

 “I have practiced sports at high-level competition I have never seen such things.  In the Olympics, the downhill discipline where speed is very important they sometimes shave to wait. Just wait.  Sometimes it snows, they wait 2, 3, 4 hours and they say nothing. Here where people wait 15 minutes, they say I blacked out because of that.  I can’t believe people think that blackouts are directly related to a delay.  I am sure that some athletes will not like what I say but at least I know I am sincere.”

The impact of this exchange continues as the Ukrainian team has publicly suggested they may not continue competing in solidarity with Zharkova

The Ukranian team is considering not diving in protest on the treatment of Nataliia Zharkova by competition organizers
The Ukranian team is considering not diving in protest on the treatment of Nataliia Zharkova by competition organizers

And the Russian team has also posted publicly in support of Zharkova.

The Russian team post publicly on Facebook in support of Nataliia Zharkova
The Russian team post publicly on Facebook in support of Nataliia Zharkova

The drama continues into the third day as storms cause the cancellation of the day’s diving after only 5 athletes have competed.

Additional reporting by Stephan Whelan

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