Rhiannan Iffland of Australia dives from the 21 metre platform during the final competition day of the first stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Boston, USA on June 3, 2023. // Romina Amato / Red Bull Content Pool 

The 2023 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series kicked off in record-breaking style.

Romania’s Constantin Popovici sealed a sensational victory at the opening round of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Boston, USA, by achieving the highest score in the
championship’s history, while in women’s competition, Australia’s six-time champion Rhiannan Iffland fended off her closest rival of last season, Molly Carlson, to claim her eighth win in a row.

Here is all you need to know:

– Popovici, whose season was cut short by injury in 2022, picked up where he left off at his
final competition in Mostar last year, surpassing his previous record-high competition score
from that stop to post a mammoth total of 492.90 points in front of 20,000 rain-soaked fans at the city’s Institute of Contemporary Art.

– “I broke two records today. The record for a dive and for the overall competition. It’s very
good and I’m happy. It’s not a surprise for me, because I focus a lot on these things. I aim for this. I’m aiming for higher and it’s good to see the results today”, said 34-year-old Popovici, whose final dive, an armstand back three somersaults with three twists in pike, also broke the record for the highest scoring individual dive.

– Spanish wildcard diver Carlos Gimeno, having earned three previous fourth-place finishes,
finally made the step up onto the podium to take the runner-up spot and secure a personal
best, while last year’s Boston winner, England’s Aidan Heslop, completed the rostrum. France’s 10-time champion, Gary Hunt, missed out on a podium spot by four points and finished in fourth.

– For Iffland, not only was this her eighth win in a row, but also an authority-stamping 20th
victory in the last 21 stops. Additionally, the 31-year-old has now tasted victory at every
location at which she’s competed in the World Series. Despite another spirited challenge from Canada’s Molly Carlson, the 22-point margin of victory suggests that the Australian’s
stranglehold over the women’s competition is as strong as ever.

– “I’m obviously super happy to start off the season like this. Usually, the toughest competition for me is always the first one, so to finish off strong like that was a really nice feeling and gives me a lot of confidence going into the rest,” Iffland said. “I know it’s going to be a battle and it’s going to be a tough season, but I’m really excited for the challenge. I’m ready to step up and compete.”

– Fellow Australian, Xantheia Pennisi, rounded out the women’s top three with her fifth career podium.

– The season’s first stop brought not only challenging weather conditions, swinging from sunny and sweltering on day one to wet and windy on day two, but it also came with a couple of new competitive twists. For the first time this season, athletes are now required to execute their dives using four of the five take-off directions – forward, back, reverse, inward, and armstand – a rule designed to truly test their versatility.

– “As there’s a rule change, you have to do four different take-off directions and I had to come up with two new dives,” explained Hunt, the most experienced athlete of the competition. “I didn’t do them as well as I would have hoped, but I learned something and I’m hoping to do them better in Paris.”

– In addition to the new rule, the male and female with the highest scoring dive at each event will each receive an additional 10 ranking points on top of their event total, an accolade earned by the two winners at this opening stop.

– From what was ultimately a damp and chilly start to the season, the World Series will move next to Europe in two weeks’ time, where the athletes will repeat last season’s awe-inspiring feats in front of the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris on June 18.

Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series Boston results
1. Constantin Popovici ROU – 492.90 points
2. Carlos Gimeno ESP – 441.50
3. Aidan Heslop GBR – 429.20
4. Gary Hunt FRA – 425.50
5. James Lichtenstein USA – 418.20

1. Rhiannan Iffland AUS – 368.35 points
2. Molly Carlson CAN – 346.20
3. Xantheia Pennisi AUS – 325.90
4. Jessica Macaulay CAN – 299.80
5. Meili Carpenter USA – 298.90

Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series standings (after 1 of 7 stops)
1. Constantin Popovici ROU – 210 points
2. Carlos Gimeno ESP – 160
3. Aidan Heslop GBR – 130
4. Gary Hunt FRA – 110
5. James Lichtenstein USA – 92

1. Rhiannan Iffland AUS – 210 points
2. Molly Carlson CAN – 160
3. Xantheia Pennisi AUS – 130
4. essica Macaulay CAN – 110
5. Meili Carpenter USA – 92

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