Rhiannan Iffland played it smart in Fukuoka. To claim her third world title in a row, she threw her hardest dive on Day 1 which eased the pressure on Day 2 and enabled the 31-year-old Aussie to clinch gold with a half-twisting inward triple (with 3.8 degree of difficulty) that scored 9s and 9.5s – even a 10.

Iffland’s main rival did just the opposite. Molly Carlson of Canada, 24, saved a 4.4 DD dive for the finale of her world championship debut. It was the same dive that helped her overtake Iffland in May to win the 2023 World Cup title (a forward half-twisting quad). On Wednesday, however, Carlson’s execution was slightly amiss and she claimed silver, 34.60 points behind Iffland.

Image Source: Istvan Derencsenyi/World Aquatics

Jessica Macaulay, 30, also of Canada, claimed her second world championship bronze medal in a row to conclude her World Aquatics career – just as her 20-year-old teammate Simone Leathead is starting hers. Leathead was in second place after Day 1, but fell to fourth place by the end. Remarkably, Leathead has only been diving from 20m towers for five months. Canada’s depth in high diving leaves little doubt about where Iffland’s competition will be coming from in the near future.

Image Source: Istvan Derencsenyi/World Aquatics

Afterwards, Iffland said, “To take out three wins in a row is incredible. I’m lost for words. Takes a lot of hard work, not only in the last few years but over a long time, starting as a little girl. I found myself standing up on the platform and drawing back on all of those experiences to calm myself down and put myself in a good energy.”

Iffland added that her third world title was different from her other two because “I wasn’t focusing on what anybody else was doing. It really worked! I think I’m going to continue carrying on that mentality on with me.”

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After the medal ceremony, Iffland was also named World Aquatics high diver of the year for 2022.

Silver medalist Carlson said she didn’t regret saving her hardest dive for last. “We’ve been pushing the degree of difficulty this whole season so we can stand up there and push for that title. Challenging Rhiannan Iffland is always so fun. I just missed my dives a little bit today. No 9s for me but I’m super-proud to come out with the silver. I can’t wait for what’s next.”

Image Source: Istvan Derencsenyi/World Aquatics

Macaulay, who was 1.85 points away from the silver medal, said that her 2023 bronze, unlike her 2019 bronze, stemmed from a new mental game.

“I felt a little bit lucky in Gwangju to get the bronze medal,” she said. “It felt like a bit of chance. I was just hoping. This time, I knew that I had the mindset tools.”

After Day 1, for example, Macaulay mentioned surrendering to fear, rather than tensing up and trying to control it. It was a process she learned while studying to be a life coach (her next career).

“Once I started applying these tools to my life, I saw a massive shift in the control I have over my brain,” she said. “It was a 180. I was like, ‘Whoa. I have the secret.’ That was a big game-changer for me.”

Image Source: Istvan Derencsenyi/World Aquatics

As for Carlson and Macauley’s training mate, Leathead, she said she didn’t come to Japan with expectations. “Top-12 is always a good result, but fourth is – I’m very happy.”

Image Source: Istvan Derencsenyi/World Aquatics

And she already knows what she needs to clean up for her next competition.

“The entries on both my dives [today] were a bit fluffy. Like, water came out [in a splash]. I know I can do really nice entries so I’m gonna work on that, for sure,” Leathead said.

“We’ve all been working so hard back in Canada and the support we’ve had from our federation is incredible,” Carlson said in closing. “To have all that and finish on the podium with Jess and Simone right behind [me] was a dream come true for Canada.”

On Thursday, the men conclude their world championship competition with dives 3 and 4 from the 27m tower at Seaside Momochi Beach Park.