Imperious Iffland and Hunt Win in Italy

Rhiannan Iffland and Gary Hunt
Date: 02/06/2019

England's Gary Hunt and Rhiannan Iffland of Australia stretched their lead at the top of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series standings with two wide-margin victories in Polignano a Mare. The Brit was at his brilliant best in Italy, finishing a full 50 points ahead of second-placed Andy Jones of America, with Czech Michal Navratil in third. 60,000 fans watched on as Iffland also took command of the women, powering past Colombia's Maria Paula Quintero by 45 points to complete her hat-trick in this location, while Belarusian Yana Nestsiarava completed the podium in third.

Securing her 14th victory in 20 events, Iffland remains unbeaten in her preferred location in the last three years. With Sunday's podium-topping performance the 27-year-old equalled the record winning streak – four across seasons – held already by Rachelle Simpson (USA). Also, the sport's most decorated athlete made it a hat-trick of victories from the 21m platform this season after winning both of the previous stops.

Rhiannan Iffland leaped to her third victory of the season to continue her dominance over the women. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.

While Iffland keeps breaking records and adding ones to her name, new competition comes in the form of Maria Paula Quintero. At 18 years of age, the wildcard from Colombia is the youngest athlete to ever finish on the podium. In only her 5th appearance the Italy runner-up improved her personal best from an 8th to a 2nd place. Less than a point behind, Belarusia's Yana Nestsiarava secured another podium after her 2nd place in the Philippines.

"It sounds a little bit unbelievable to have 3 wins here in Italy and 3 wins this season already," said Iffland. "I'm super stoked and ready for more. Look at this place. It's like a paradise for cliff diving; the weather is always great, the fans as well; you step upon the platform and there's so much energy, which is a really amazing feeling.

"All of the divers that come here are capable to be on the podium. It's just consistency that really makes the difference. All the girls are diving strong and the DDs are going up. We're raising the bar, so it's a really nice feeling."

In the men's a sensational final dive gave Gary Hunt a runaway victory at the third stop of the season. After winning in 2015 and 2018, the Brit marked the 75th World Series competition – in which he has competed at every one – with his third win in this beautiful location. Trailing Mexico's Jonathan Paredes going into the final round in Polignano a Mare, the 34-year-old stepped on the gas and delivered a brilliant final dive that fired him to victory by a huge 50 point margin.

Gary Hunt blew his rivals away in Italy and opened up a large gap at the top of the overall standings. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.

Andy Jones from the US finished in 2nd place, half a point ahead of Czech Michal Navratil, who completed the top three with a first ever podium in Italy.

"It was a tough competition and I felt pushed right till the end," said Hunt. "I absolutely believed I could win. I know that my strongest dive was left until last and anything can happen.

"This year I think it's a bit of a transition period for a lot of divers; everyone's pushing the limits of the Degree of Difficulty. We're seeing some of the guys paying the price a little bit, and it's taking them a few attempts to get those dives good. Me on the other hand, I've stepped it back slightly and you're seeing a consistent performance."

(L-R) Navratil, Hunt and Jones celebrate on the men's podium surrounded by fans. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.

Record winner Hunt stretched his lead at the top of the World Series standings with this comprehensive victory from 27m in the home of European cliff diving. Italy's runner up Jones sits in second with Kris Kolanus from Poland in third. In the women's it is Iffland who holds a clear lead ahead of Nestsiarava and Canada's Lysanne Richard, who finished fourth in Italy.

From a place where 60,000 passionate spectators pushed local hero Alessandro De Rose to a fantastic fourth placed finish on the country's Republic Day, the World Series travels to its most classic venue in the Portuguese Azores in three weeks' time.

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