Former Aussie Gymnasts dominate at the Red Bull Cliff Diving series


Rhinanan Iffland and Helena Merten have finished first and second in the final round of the Red Bull Cliff Diving event held recently in Dubai. Rhiannan began the Red Bull Cliff Diving season as a wildcard, and she went on to dominated the series by winning five of the seven events, and in the process becoming the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Champion.


(photo credits: RedBull/Balazs Gardi & RedBull/Dean Treml) (Rhiannan: centre, Helena: right)

Like many divers, Rhiannan started her sporting career in gymnastics. Rhiannan was a trampolinist at Eastlake Trampoline Sports, under the tuition of Brett Austine. Rhiannan was very successful on the trampoline winning numerous NSW state championship events. Rhiannan also competed in diving, where she was training with the NSWIS squad, and again she was very successful winning several national titles as a junior athlete.

Rhiannan credits her trampoline background in helping her to become a very successful diver and cliff diver.

"Making the transition from trampoline to diving was actually easy for me. When it came to cliff diving I felt quite comfortable adding the Barani (a somersault with a half twist), as I was taught so well by Brett, joining the skills of both diving and trampoline together felt quite natural for me."


(photo credits: RedBull/Romina Amato)

In the Cliff Diving events the women dive off a 20m platform, twice the height of the Olympic platform event, and they hit the water at 70km per hour. Rhiannan learnt high diving while working on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. Her favourite dive is the front triple pike half twist.

Rhiannan is relatively new to cliff diving, therefore her future goals are to focus on improving and upscaling her dives, she wants to keep raising the bar higher and continue enjoy the craziness of Cliff Diving. Click the link for a video of Rhiannan’s high diving skills http://bit.ly/2fc1TJe.

Helena Merten is the youngest competitor in the women’s field for the Red Bull Cliff Diving series in 2016. She has had a remarkable year in 2016, in February she finished 2nd at the FINA High Diving World Cup event in Abu Dhabi, and she has had several podium performances in the Red Bull Cliff Diving series. She finished on a high by placing second in the final event in Dubai, and she finished in fourth place overall, and not surprising she too was a gymnast before switching to the 20m platform.

Over many years Helena did Acrobatic Gymnastics, Artistic Gymnastics, Trampolining and Tumbling, she learnt all her skills at Tumble Town, Southport Gymnastics Club and Super Performance Centre. She was also training diving with Paradise Diving Club.

After seeing a Cirque du Soleli show at the age of sevem Helena was determined to become a circus performer. After finishing school she decided to defer university to find a job in circus overseas, and soon she was working in Macau as an acrobat with the world's largest water-based acrobatic show, 'The House of Dancing Water'. Soon after her coach asked her to start High Diving, which she could perform in the show. From there Helena was invited to compete in the FINA High Diving World Cup where she finished with a silver medal.


   
“Gymnastics gave me such confidence as an athlete and performer that carries through to today. It gave me a head start in every sport I started, I had flexibility, power, endurance, balance and a mind that would allow me to push myself. From this, I think I developed a try everything attitude.” 

Looking ahead Helena will continue to combine sport and performance; she will again compete in the Red Bull Cliff Diving series, but also training and performing in the circus. Click the link for a video of Helena’s high diving skills: http://bit.ly/2fyV7ff.


(photo credits: Balazs Gardi & Dean Treml)

Enjoy some Red Bull Cliff Diving highlights here: http://bit.ly/2fA4vgX and http://bit.ly/2fuYKCn.

Both Rhiannan and Helena have secured places in the 2017 Red Bull Cliff Diving series – Gymnastics Australia wishes them both the best of luck with all their future diving and performances!



About Spin to Win

Gymnastics Australia (GA) is supported by the Federal Government's Australian Institute of Sport Competitive Innovation Fund. ‘Spin to Win’ is a collaborative project led by GA in partnership with Diving Australia (DA), Ski & Snowboard Australia (SSA) and the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia (OWIA) that aims to build a successful and sustainable national system of talent identification, development and transfer to maximise podium performances at World Championships and Olympic Games in each sport in the future.

For more information regarding talent identification or talent transfer please contact GA's National Pathways Coordinator – Spin to Win, Bree Bryant at bbryant@gymnastics.org.au.