Aussie high diving great Iffland wins fourth world gold

Ian Chadband |

Australia’s Rhiannan Iffland winning a fourth straight world championship high diving gold in Doha.
Australia’s Rhiannan Iffland winning a fourth straight world championship high diving gold in Doha.

Rhiannan Iffland, one of the unsung treasures of Australian sport, has continued her dominance of high diving by winning a record-extending fourth consecutive world championship gold medal in Doha.

In the Qatari capital’s old port on Wednesday, the 32-year-old, who’s dominated the extreme sport for a decade, once again demonstrated courage and composure under the utmost pressure in what effectively became a one-off dive for gold.

“Number four. I’m absolutely speechless,” beamed a delighted Iffland, whose remarkable exploits have slipped under the radar a little with high diving not being an Olympic sport.

“It’s a big accomplishment. I knew it was gonna be a fight, so it makes it that bit more rewarding. I’m really proud that I fought for it, and didn’t give up.”

Lying just 4.30pts behind big rival, Canada’s Molly Carlson, going into their fourth and final dives from the 20-metre tower, Iffland produced the best dive of the championship – a superbly executed inward three somersaults with a half-twist in the pike position – that scored 102.60.

Forced to respond against the woman she calls the “queen of high diving”, rising star Carlson, the only athlete to have got the better of Iffland in four years, could only answer with 77.00, ensuring the Australian won with 342.00 to the Canadian’s 320.70.

It ensured that the fearless Iffland, who grew up in NSW’s Lake Macquarie region and is now based in Innsbruck, Austria, added a fourth straight crown to those she won in Budapest 2017, Gwangju 2019 and Fukuoka 2023 – the only four times the event has been held.

It was a terrific comeback too, as Iffland had been lying 14.50 points behind Carlson after Tuesday’s first two dives.

“Yesterday was okay, but it wasn’t my best and I knew I had to come out here today and fight and put down two good dives,” she said.

“I just had to try and keep my composure and stay focused on the job and that’s what I did. I tried not to let anything else get in my mind but that focus and get the fire inside me going.”

Iffland celebrates
Rhiannan Iffland celebrates her fourth straight gold at the world championships. (EPA PHOTO)

Once a trampolinist who went on to hone her skills as an aquatic acrobat on a cruise ship, Iffland has gone on to rule the roost in a precarious sport where serious injuries are never far away if a dive is not executed correctly. 

She has won the Red Bull cliff diving series, effectively the World Cup circuit for high divers, seven times in a row, but not without serious hardships along the route.

For instance, in 2017, in the Bosnian city of Mostar, she over-rotated in a dive from a bridge, couldn’t correct it in time and had to be rescued from the river with groin muscles badly torn and MCL strains to both knees.

Normal recovery time is eight weeks, but Iffland, determined to win her Red Bull crown, competed five weeks later in Chile, jumping from platform by a huge waterfall in the foothills of the Andes and winning without a single practice dive.

The frustration for Iffland is that her dominance still can’t be demonstrated at the Paris Olympics, as high diving has not been admitted alongside traditional pool diving events, despite long being part of the World Aquatics canon of events.

Iffland’s teammate Xantheia Pennisi finished fifth with a score of 291.95.