Published On: Sat, Apr 13th, 2019

Strong start for champs in PH leg of Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series

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Australia’s Rhiannan Iffland and Great Britain’s Gary Hunt impress with their dives off the majestic cliffs of El Nido, Palawan

Published 12:10 AM, April 14, 2019

Updated 12:10 AM, April 14, 2019

DIVE QUEEN. Rhiannan Iffland kicks off her bid for a fourth straight World Series title with a splash. Photo by Delfin Dioquino/Rappler

DIVE QUEEN. Rhiannan Iffland kicks off her bid for a fourth straight World Series title with a splash. Photo by Delfin Dioquino/Rappler

EL NIDO, Philippines – The reigning titlists kicked off their title-retention campaign with a splash after ruling the Philippine leg of the 2019 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series at the Big Lagoon here on Saturday, April 13.

Australia’s Rhiannan Iffland and Great Britain’s Gary Hunt came off a rousing start in the seven-leg World Series as they posted the highest scores following 4 dives attempted through the two-day competition.

Defending three-time champion Iffland ranked 3rd through the first 3 dives before earning 106.4 points in her final dive – an inward triple somersault with a half twist – to record an aggregate 329.25 points for 1st place.

Belarus’ Yana Nestsiarava and Canada’s Lysanne Richard landed at 2nd and 3rd in the women’s division with scores of 319.35 and 309.70 points, respectively.

“Last year I placed 4th at the opening event so I had some a little bit of pressure that I didn’t have the target on my back,” Iffland told reporters.

“But I’m super happy, this is just a confidence boost to win here to step up a notch for the coming competitions.”

Hunt likewise had a come-from-behind triumph in men’s action as he placed 3rd through his first 3 dives until he tallied 137.80 points in his last attempt to pull his score to 427.25 points for the top spot.

Romania’s Constantin Popovici settled for 2nd with 409.40 points while Mexico’s Jonathan Paredes – the pack leader after the first 3 dives – slipped to 3rd place with 408.05 points.

“My best dive was my last dive. I used this dive in the end because I knew I could do it well under pressure and when I need I good dive, that usually does the trick,” Hunt said of his back triple somersault with 4 twists dive.

It is the first time the World Series staged a leg in Asia and both champions marvelled at the magnificent limestone formations the cliffs in Miniloc Island offered.

“When I arrived and saw the cliffs and how beautiful they are, I knew it was going to be something special,” Hunt said.

Filipino-Australian Xantheia Pennisi – a wild card – fared well in her first cliff diving tournament as she placed 7th out of the 9 competitors in the women’s division. (READ: Fil-Aussie hopes to pave way for more Filipino cliff divers)

The World Series will head to Europe for its next stop at the Carlisle Pier in Dublin, Ireland on May 12. – Rappler.com

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