Plunging into a new role
TAKING a leap of faith is what cliff diver Joey Zuber does each time he takes the plunge.
Zuber likes to live on the edge and his courage destroys his fear when he launches himself off 23m high cliffs with exposure to forces nine times stronger than those experienced on a 10m tower.
This sport is extreme when you consider the diving speed of 100km per hour and hitting the water in just three seconds, but also the body control required.
“Where is the kick if you have no fear,” Zuber said.
“I get unbelievably scared and I can't think of anything scarier, but it is so satisfying overcoming the fear.”
Zuber began as a champion diver and showed potential from just seven-years-old, claiming the national age championship nine times and won the Red Bull World Cliff Diving Championships twice throughout his illustrious career.
However in January 2008, Zuber's career took a turn for the worse when he was commissioned to dive from a bridge in Columbia during a music festival.
Misjudging the landing, his dive took a life-threatening turn, and the daredevil knew something had gone wrong - he had snapped his femur in half.
“They left me in the water and I had no other option but to pull my leg straight as it was just dangling as they lifted me from the water,” Zuber said.
“I knew I was nine hours from help, and it took 30 hours to get to surgery without pain relief.
“I did all the usual things, checking out the location, the height of the cliff and I swam to check the bottom for depth.
“I was lucky to have survived because I also had other complications like kidney failure.”
The Southport local will have another operation this August to repair his leg which was shortened by 3cm as a result of the accident.
Now out of the adrenalin-seeking action, Zuber puts his 23-years of experience into practice and coaches at Paradise Diving Club in Southport, and recently witnessed two of his divers take out their relative age divisions - Sansanee Lagerway in the 16-18 years category and Lucy Larkins in the Under-11s.
Zuber was awarded coach of 2009 for his efforts and hopes to extend his services south, beginning courses at the Tweed Regional Aquatic Centre in Murwillumbah in the coming months.