While Rhiannan Iffland is a four-time world champion cliff diver, the fear she feels before every jump still hasn’t left her.
But despite this understandable hesitation in anticipation of a 25-metre plunge to the water below, the 28-year-old Aussie has already taken the extreme sport’s world by storm.
“Honestly, I still have anxieties every time I get up there and look over the platform, but it’s part of the sport and it’s one of the things that draws me to the sport and makes me do it anyway,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
“It doesn’t go away, you just learn to deal with it.”
Coming out on top
And dealt with it she has, with the Newcastle native earning her first Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series win in 2016 before taking home the title in each year since.
The championship is cliff diving’s peak competition and sees hopefuls jump from a platform at heights of up to 28 metres at stunning locations around the globe.
But despite her near-unprecedented success, the ride hasn’t always been a completely smooth one.
In 2016, just weeks before her first world title, a bad landing led to two dislocated knees—something which could have easily derailed her rookie season.
“We hit the water at quite a high speed, at almost 80km/h and had to slow down within a second so basically I had to slow down and my legs just went in the wrong direction beneath the water,” she says.
“We all have a bit of a spill here and there but overall I’ve been pretty lucky while I’ve been up on those heights—and it comes back to how I focus mentally as well.”
Undeterred, Rhiannan powered through and not only took home the title but did so as a wildcard entrant in her debut year, becoming the the first-ever rookie to do so.
“I went in cold to the final and ended up winning,” she says.
“It’s always exciting. Because it’s an extreme sport the feeling of accomplishment of just diving and being able to travel the world has been equally amazing.”
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