They say to trust the process and cliff diving is proof that’s good advice
What are the goals of the world’s best cliff diving athletes, and how do they go about achieving them? Get the lowdown from everyone from Gary Hunt to Rhiannan Iffland right here.
The importance of setting goals, self-development, mental growth and confidence – we’ve all heard and followed these phrases and principles. So why not ask professional athletes about how they aim for personal progression while being already at the top of their game and, in this case, on top of a 21 and 27m platform?
“I think self-development over time is crucial because you wanna keep growing," she says. "But I’m a really big advocate for mental health, and so I wanna make sure that my mental health stays strong over time. I grow with the scarier dives and I want to make sure I feel comfortable as well. So, just really staying stable, comfortable, feeling confident and being able to have so much fun.”
Cliff divers are always chasing that perfect 10, but they don't forget to have fun along the way. One of the most experienced athletes on tour, David Colturi has set this as his main goal. The 32-year-old American has been a permanent diver since 2011 and is still the youngest winner of a World Series competition. After 27 years of diving and more than a decade of diving from the 27m platform, it’s more about enjoying the season for what it is and hopefully making it for another one.
“It’s not so much about finding the perfect moment anymore, because for me it’s the journey," he says. "I’ve had such an awesome journey, and I’ve had so many cool experiences, now I do just get to revel in the moments as they come now. Of course I’m still trying to be competitive, of course I want to win the Series and do harder dives, bigger tricks and be on that podium, get the trophies and spray champagne, but for me it’s more about enjoying the moment because I know there aren’t that many left.”
Steven LoBue, fellow US diver and long-term diving buddy of Colturi, has confirmed that the 2021 season will be his last as a full-time competitive diver. After accomplishing everything he wanted to do, the 2017 FINA High Diving World Champion and the first person ever to perform five somersaults in less than three seconds, the ‘turbo-spinner’ will call it a day at the end of the season.
“It’s the first time I’ve come to an event here and it hasn’t been my goal to win. And I don’t know if it’s ever been that way really. So to come to Mostar with the pure – like the only goal is pure enjoyment – to just get up there and embrace it, feel it one more time and just be with all my friends.”
Gary Hunt is a legend of the sport, with a record of 40 event wins. But he still finds areas to improve.
“There’s definitely a little bit of sharpness especially in the entries – I think you forget that after a couple of years how tight you have to be to get that perfect rip entry," he says. "So that’s definitely something I’m looking to work on: really squeezing every muscle in my body to make no splash whatsoever. That’s what I’m going to be trying to improve on.”
Constant improvement is the driving force also for the sport’s most decorated female athlete. Australia’s Rhiannan Iffland hasn’t stopped winning since the final event in Italy in 2018 and is targeting her 11th consecutive victory during next weekend’s stop in Ireland. Her approach: the more you do it, the more comfortable you get, the more you know how to do it when you stand up there.
“When I first began training high diving in the first couple of years, I was spending a lot of time on my entries but now I’m just training the rotations, training the takeoff more so because I think it’s what I need to train more," she says. "So I’ve focused a lot more time and energy on training the takeoffs and having a strong takeoff. I’ve also been working a lot physically to try and be in the best shape possible I can throughout the whole season.”
So when Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series continues on September 12 at Ireland’s Downpatrick Head, these cliff divers will be part of a 24-strong line-up that follows a very personal path to progression.