Lake Macquarie Cliff Diving World Series champion Rhiannan Iffland has taken a stunning detour on her way to this weekend’s penultimate round in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The 25-year-old from Nords Wharf is on track to defend the world series title she won on debut last year after winning three of the four events so far this season. She also won this year’s FINA high diving world championship in Budapest in July.
She will enter Saturday’s round in the Bosnian city of Mostar with a 170-point lead over Mexico’s Adriana Jimenez after dominating round four in Texas two weeks ago.
Iffland can lock up the championship this weekend with one round to spare, as she did last year.
It’s great to explore the country before the event.Rhiannan Iffland
But she put her title charge on hold on Thursday to travel to the picturesque Strbacki buk waterfall in the Una National Park, on the border with Croatia, to launch into the chilly 13-degree waters of the Una River.
She and Colombian legend Orlando Duque performed a series of acrobatic dives for the cameras from the top of the waterfall. Iffland described it as an “unreal day of diving” in an area of stunning natural beauty.
“It’s great to explore the country before the event,” she said.
Iffland dived out of a helicopter 25 metres above the Atlantic Ocean before the series-opening event in Ireland in June. She has also been nominated in the Sportswoman of the Year category of Australian Cosmopolitan magazine’s 2017 Women of the Year awards.
Saturday’s competition off the Stari Most bridge is especially significant for Iffland, who was present when the 400-year-old Ottoman structure was reopened in 2004.
“This town kind of lives for diving and lives for this bridge,” she said. “I was honoured to be present at the reopening ceremony back in 2004 after it was destroyed during the war.
“I have a lot of respect for what the guys do here. They’re diving daily and keeping the tradition going.”
Iffland, who learned to dive with Hunter United Diving Academy at Lambton Pool, finished third in Mostar last year. It was one of only two events on the seven-stop 2016 world championship tour she did not win.
The 43-year-old Duque has long been part of Mostar folklore with a mountain of competition experience at the venue.
“As soon as you walk in, they know who we are, they know us by name, they know what we do,” he said.
“They’re really excited. They always welcome us with open arms. You feel like coming home.”
As ever, thousands are expected to throng to the monument to see how both championships play out.