The Pressure Of Success: How Rhiannan Iffland Learned To Thrive At The Top

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Rhiannan Iffland - Photo Courtesy: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool

“I was thrown into the deep end,” joked Rhiannan Iffland about the beginning of her cliff diving career.

The 27 year old from New Castle, Australia dove in her first cliff diving competition in 2016. She came in last place by over one hundred points.

Since then, Iffland has competed in 17 Red Bull cliff diving events. Of those, she’s won 11 times and only finished off the podium twice. On Tuesday, July 23, 2019 Iffland added another medal to her collection, winning her second gold at the FINA High Diving World Championships.

Iffland is now the most successful female cliff diver in the history of the sport. To get here, she had to change the way she thinks about competing, and why she dives.

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Iffland dives from the Bridge of Angels (2018) – Photo Courtesy: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool

“I don’t know what made me decide to do it,” said Iffland about her transition into cliff diving. Adding with a laugh, “I wonder that every time I stand on platform.”

She comes from an Olympic diving and trampoline background. After her more traditional platform diving career, Iffland brought her acrobatic skills to diving shows on cruise ships. Traveling with those shows, she was exposed to diving from places as high as 20 meters.

When Iffland starting looking into Red Bull Cliff Diving, not only did she see it as interesting opportunity to travel and continue diving on the next level, but as an opportunity to grow.

After her devastating first competition, Iffland competed in Texas as a wildcard entry into the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series.

She took it as a chance to completely change her approach to competition.

“I changed to thinking about bettering myself as a diver and having fun,” said Iflland. “That changed everything.”

In her very first Red Bull competition, Iffland took first place. She was the youngest woman to ever win a cliff diving event. Then, she went on to win the Red Bull Cliff Diving Women’s World Series.

Jonathan Paredes (R) of Mexico and Rhiannan Iffland of Australia celebrate with their overall series trophy for 2017 after the sixth and final stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series at Rininahue waterfall, Lago Ranco, Chile on October 21, 2017. // Romina Amato/Red Bull Content Pool // P-20171022-00210 // Usage for editorial use only // Please go to www.redbullcontentpool.com for further information. //

Iffland & Mexico’s Jonathan Parede’s celebrate their overall Red Bull title trophies in 2017 – Photo Courtesy: Romina Amato/Red Bull Content Pool

In the 2017 and 2018 Red Bull seasons, Iffland says she had a harder time in competition due to the pressure she put on herself.  Despite challenges, she still won the 2017 FINA High Diving World Championships, the 2017 and 2018 Red Bull Cliff Diving Women’s World Series, and the 2018 FINA Diving World Cup.

Now, in the 2019 season, she’s found a new balance and a better headspace. The latest FINA World Championship is proof of that.

Iffland was in fifth place after the first day of competition. Going into the second day she was hoping for bronze. Still, 15 points is not a lot to make up.

In the moments before her last dive, she was riding on a wave of confidence from somewhere within herself, guided by the advice that Greg Louganis gave her at the beginning of the season.

“Pressure can go two ways,” Louganis told Iffland. “You can let it affect your performance, or you can let it enhance your performance and channel it into positive energy.”

In the fourth and final round at the World Championships, Iffland was in fourth place and 12.6 points behind the leader. Her final dive was an inward triple tuck with a half twist (5461D).

Iffland received 9s from the judges and a total score of 98.8 points, successfully defending her world title by 0.15 points.

Iffland has learned to thrive at the top, working within the pressure of success.

Rhiannan Iffland (R) of Australia and Jacqueline Valente of Brazil congratulate one another during the third stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series at Polignano a Mare, Italy on 23 July 2017. // Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool // P-20170723-01483 // Usage for editorial use only // Please go to www.redbullcontentpool.com for further information. //

Iffland hugs Brazil’s Jacqueline Valente (July 2017) – Photo Courtesy: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool

Iffland is far from finished. She has plenty of goals for the future.

Her long term goals include winning six world titles.

In the meantime, Iffland has some ideas for new dives, but she says that’s something you can’t really finalize until you get up there to try them.

She also hoped to go undefeated this Red Bull season, something that’s looking a lot more realistic after the World Championships.

Above all, Iffland wants “to keep having a ball and encouraging young women to be fearless.”

2 comments

  1. avatar
    Sarah

    Cool article . Btw Newcastle is one word

    • avatar
      Lynn walko

      True legend to the sport love watching u dive from an old time high diver lynn walko

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