England's Gary Hunt and Rhiannan Iffland of Australia, the reigning Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series champions, took a giant leap towards yet another victory on the first day of competition in Dublin, Ireland. Both lead after two rounds of diving in Dún Laoghaire Harbour as they attempt to continue their respective winning streaks.
A format change due to the cold weather meant that the 24 men and women were free to choose their dives, and Hunt came out blazing with a brilliant Forward 3 Somersaults 3 1/2 Twists from the 27m platform in front of 60,000 fans gathered on the pier. The Brit holds a 22 point lead over American David Colturi going into the final rounds, and victory on Sunday would see him equal his own record of six World Series wins in a row.
"I was steady," said Hunt afterwards. "I managed to do one of my difficult dives and one of my simple dives at a really steady pace keeping the scores higher than eights. I think it's definitely to my advantage being used to the British weather. I have good results in bad weather so it's my strong suit.
"I want to keep this winning streak running. It gives you confidence to know that you haven't been beaten in six competitions, so I'm definitely going to keep it going as long as possible."
Rhiannan Iffland took a little longer to warm up from the 21m platform on a chilly day in Dublin Bay, but followed her first 3-second freefall with a beautiful Inward 3 Somersaults 1/2 Twist for her second. The 27-year-old carries a five point lead into Sunday over her nearest rival, Canada's Lysanne Richard.
"It was awesome standing up on the side of the platform seeing everyone pumped and really energetic to be here and watch the competition," said Iffland. "It's always a nice feeling to get up there and use that energy towards the dives. I'm pretty happy with how consistently I dived today.
"When I was coming to Ireland I was prepared for this weather and I was expecting it. It's a little bit like expect the worst so you're not disappointed, which does make it a little bit easier when you're up there. You're prepared for it and you expect it."
With good weather expected for the final, and even bigger crowds anticipated to stir up the atmosphere, not many would bet against cliff diving's untouchables leaping to victory once again in Ireland on Sunday evening.
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