LAKE Macquarie daredevil Rhiannan Iffland has all but secured the Red Bull cliff-diving world title after her fourth victory of the season in Shirahama, Japan, on Sunday.
The 25-year-old from Nords Wharf – who has been competing as a wildcard during her maiden year on the circuit – took out the event with a back triple somersault with a twist on her final dive, after which all five judges awarded her either 9s or 8.5s out of 10.
With one stop left on the tour, in Dubai in two weeks, Iffland has a convincing lead in the title race with a cumulative tally of 1090 points, 150 ahead of her nearest rival, Canadian Lysanne Richard, who finished third in Japan.
Richard’s only apparent chance of beating Iffland for the crown would be if she won in Dubai and the Australian imploded.
That would appear unlikely, given that in the six events thus far, Iffland has finished first four times, runner-up once and third once.
The former Belmont High School student, who learned to dive at Lambton pool under the coaching of Hunter Diving Academy’s Eric Brooker, said she was taking nothing for granted.
"It's not over yet," Iffland said. "To have all this pressure on me about winning the World Series is not going to help my performance, so I'm still just going out there doing what I know and what I love, and I think that really helps."
She admitted to feeling apprehensive before competing in Japan, having been troubled by a groin injury at her previous contest, at Stari Most bridge in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“For me, this is a big one,’’ she said.
“I came in off an injury in my last competition, and I was not very confident. Not as confident at the past competitions.
“But I came here and the dives felt great. I’m so happy.’’
I'm still just going out there doing what I know and what I love. - Rhiannan Iffland
She had plenty of respect for Richard, who is also chasing her first world title. The 34-year-old mother of three is a former Cirque du Soleil acrobat who graduated from National Circus School of Montreal.
“Lysanne is diving really great,’’ Iffland said.
“Anybody can win the title. Everybody is diving amazingly.
“I was here as a wildcard at the start, so I couldn’t be happier.’’
After trialling for the Red Bull circuit last year, Iffland was offered a wildcard entry for the first competition of 2016, in Texas, which she won.
She proved that was no fluke with a win two weeks later, in Portugal, followed by wins in Wales and now Japan.