Dominant duo secure thrilling victories on action-packed day.
Gary Hunt and Rhiannan Iffland maintained their winning form on a dramatic and barely believable day of action at the fourth stop of the 2021 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Downpatrick Head, Ireland. Here is all you need to know:
Held on the rugged Irish coast, four-time champion Iffland was simply untouchable. Beginning the third round in an unfamiliar third position, the Australian blew her rivals out of the water with a sensational ‘perfect dive’, earning five 10s from the judges—the highest score possible—for the first time in her glittering career.
Not only did Iffland become the first woman to achieve this feat, but she also surpassed her own previous record for the highest single dive score and secured a record-extending 11th consecutive World Series win.
Joining Iffland on the podium were Canada’s Jessica Macaulay in second place and a fellow Aussie, wildcard Xantheia Pennisi, who put on a career-best display to make the top three for the first time.
Iffland said: “It feels great to be on top of the podium once again. I was feeding a little bit from my training partner Xantheia Pennisi as well. Coming into the last two rounds today it was neck and neck and I think I really ate up the pressure and I enjoyed it.”
She added: “That dive in the warm-up, it didn’t go so well, so I decided I had to switch my mindset for the competition and made sure that I gave it my absolute all. I went through the water and went ‘wow, that really worked’. I’m super stoked and I guess I’ve got to figure out ways to spice it up and keep pushing myself.
“I guess I can kind of relax a little bit now and enjoy the competitions a little bit more. Saying that, I still want to go out there and give it my all to break those scores again. This is what I’m aiming for next.”
In the men’s competition, Hunt earned his 41st career victory after an enthralling day of diving. The Frenchman had earned three 10s in Saturday’s second round but saw his rivals crank up the pressure with a series of high-scoring dives in the third and fourth rounds.
Romania’s Constantin Popovici began the glut of 10s by earning four of them for his third-round dive. Then, in the final round, English prodigy Aidan Heslop grabbed two, Italy’s Alessandro De Rose picked up three, while Spanish wildcard Carlos Gimeno wowed the crowd with a first-ever perfect handstand dive, becoming only the third man ever to receive five 10s from the judges.
Despite this series of incredible dives, Hunt held off the challenge from the chasing pack to claim victory. Popovici took second place, while De Rose made the top three for the first time since 2017.
Hunt said: “From Italy I expect fireworks. I feel like everyone is really getting into their stride. You’ve seen how many 10s have been awarded this competition and everyone is getting comfortable. It will be really, really tough, but that’s what I love about this sport. It’s gonna get tougher every year and let’s hope to finish this season with a bang.”
The 37-year-old added: “This one is a special victory for me because I’m going home and going to my father-in-law’s funeral, so I can hopefully bring a little bit of joy to them and this one is dedicated to him.”
On a weekend that will go down in cliff diving history, a record 23 top notes were handed out, two perfect dives were recorded in a single stop for the first time ever and Gimeno became the first diver to ever perform a handstand dive directly off the rocks during the first round.
Next up for the world’s best cliff divers is a trip to Puglia in Italy on Sept. 22.
1. Gary Hunt FRA 442.50
2. Constantin Popovici ROU 433.60
3. Alessandro De Rose ITA 419.55
4. Carlos Gimeno (W) ESP 395.40
5. David Colturi USA 393.10
1. Gary Hunt FRA 560 points
2. Constantin Popovici ROU 450
3. Catalin Preda (W) ROU 339
4. Alessandro De Rose ITA 314
5. Carlos Gimeno (W) ESP 232
1. Rhiannan Iffland AUS 391.60
2. Jessica Macaulay CAN 343.80
3. Xantheia Pennisi (W) AUS 338.20
4. Molly Carlson CAN 316.80
5. Eleanor Smart 302.80
1. Rhiannan Iffland AUS 600 points
2. Jessica Macaulay CAN 420
3. Molly Carlson (W) CAN 346
4. Xantheia Pennisi (W) AUS 272
5. Eleanor Smart USA 260