Briton Aidan Heslop clinched back-to-back Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series wins at the fourth stop in Japan to keep his title hopes alive as Australian Rhiannan Iffland stretched her unbeaten run to 11 in the sacred waters of the Gokase River. Here is all you need to know:
– Japanese newcomer Kyohei Arata had the privilege of becoming the first athlete ever to leap into his country’s most sacred location with the entire Takachiho region associated with Japanese ancient mythology.
– Takachiho Gorge in the south-west saw the divers perform from the rocks over the Manai
Waterfall into the sacred waters of the Gokase River below during Round 1, then they
performed the remaining Round take-offs from a platform high above the cliffs of the
breathtaking natural gorge.
– Heslop entered the final round 20 points behind title leader Constantin Popovici and pulled off his tried and trusted Forward 4 Somersaults 3½ Twists Pike to put the pressure on by scoring eights, before watching on as his Romanian title rival faltered with the final dive of the day.
– Heslop, 21, admitted: “A bit of a surprise, to be honest. My last dive, I couldn’t quite see the scores. So in Costa’s dive, I didn’t know what he needed. He has been so consistent this year that I just kind of expected him to nail it, but it just shows how tricky these conditions are. With the rain and the canopy of the trees causing so much darkness, it does affect us clearly. But I’m super happy that my dives were good enough.”
– Heslop has closed the gap on Popovici with the two wins, nevertheless the 34-year-old – who earned gold at the recent High Diving World Championships in Fukuoka – could potentially secure his maiden King Kahekili Trophy with victory at the next stop off the iconic Mostar Bridge.
– The men’s podium was completed by American James Lichtenstein, the second top three
finish of his career, while reigning champion Gary Hunt of France is still without a podium this season following his fourth spot.
– From the 21m women’s platform, newly crowned world champion Iffland triumphed courtesy of a stunning final dive which earned the 31-year-old two 10 scores, along with 10 extra World Series points for the best dive.
– Once again it was Molly Carlson who pushed the six-time champion all the way, but the
Canadian slipped further behind with 180 points now separating the two women in the overall title standings.
– Iffland, who is still on to secure the third ‘perfect’ season of her stunning career, said: “This is cliff diving. Elements are always changing at each location and you have to adapt. It’s a special way to finish, definitely in a location like this. I always know that I have to keep up with Molly on the simple dives, just so there’s an even playing field coming into the dive with a more degree of difficulty. Super stoked to finish off like that.”
– For the third time in four stops, Iffland’s Australian compatriot Xantheia Pennisi rounded out the women’s podium, an impressive result which also moves her into third place in the overall standings.